For the past few years, I've met up with women clergy colleagues early in the year on a cruise ship in the Caribbean. They are part of RevGalBlogPals, a supportive network of women clergy who initially connected virtually through blogging. We invite a facilitator on the cruise and hire the cruise ship's conference facilities and embark on 20 hours CPD while cruising the high seas. Just some of the things we've done together are: studied the Enneagram, written new liturgical material, critiqued books and considered how to be a Missional church in a changing culture.
Of course, in addition to the time we spend studying together, there is also plenty of fun time - we call it Galship - where, just like all the other passengers on board, we enjoy the facilities that the cruise ship has to offer.
The onboard Cruise Director, when announcing the day's choice of activities, always reminds folk: "What happens on the ship stays on the ship." - an encouragement to loosen inhibitions in the knowledge that no one who wasn't involved will find out.
For quite some time now, it appears that many of us have treated Sunday worship in a similar manner, preferring to keep the activities we undertake in worship week by week within the confines of the church building. Not that we ever loosen our inhibitions in worship anyway. But we participate in worship, perhaps enjoy some fellowship, and then head home to get on with the rest of the week, neatly tucking away our church involvement until the next Sunday. And, whether we have been moved to tears, joy or whatever else, we put everything away safely and tidily until our next opportunity to get together to worship again.
And so those who are not involved don't see any need to be, far less pick up on any lasting effect or difference that worship makes to our lives or the life of the world.
We might as well be on a cruise ship in the Caribbean if we do not allow what we do within the walls of the church to make a difference to how we live and serve every other day of the week.
Discipleship 101 - take it outside!