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Dear friends,

Some fellow vicars try to convince me that it’s not just about ‘bums on seats’. What they mean is that we shouldn’t be so worried if people don’t come to church. So it is that many clergy in our country try to make themselves feel better about small congregations and declining numbers.

However, the issue of ‘bums on seats’ should not be so easily dismissed.

Some locals might say ‘If you want bums on your seats, you’ll need to make them more comfortable!’ Well, we are tackling that one! By the end of this month, we hope to take delivery of pew cushions for all of the church pews (apart from the balcony). At the Annual Church Meeting in May, a church member made a plea to address this issue: padding for our rears. Others backed the proposal and so we have researched alternatives, and ordered pew cushions.

The cost is about £200 per pew, for 26 pews. If you can help us cover the cost by the end of the month, it will be a great service to future churchgoers, concertgoers, wedding and funeral supporters, and many more. Give a pew cushion and make a difference.

One way to address bums on seats is to attend to the practicalities. But another is to challenge the lazy thinking. We must face the stark realities. St Luke’s will not continue as a Christian church without good numbers of Christians who come to worship God each week.

I’ve been a Church of England vicar for 34 years and I believe that church is about ‘bums on seats’. It matters that people come to church. I don’t believe in changing Christian beliefs to get people in. I don’t want to change the Reformation founding principles of the Church of England just to get more through the door. But we need to see our numbers increase if we are going to survive as a church. And I am not just interested in surviving….. I am keen that our congregations are thriving.

We’ve got quite a way to go. One way to help in the right direction is to recognise that regular churchgoing is a part of Christian discipleship. Being a Christian and going to church are a pair. ‘Bums on seats’ are important.

We want to be heartfelt in inviting to church services all who are questioning life and are interested in God. If someone is seeking the Lord, then there is help at your local church.

We want to be sincere in our witness to Jesus Christ. He is the one who shows us what God is like and who gives us a personal invitation to know him, and join his worldwide family.

We want people to avoid pretending and be real. That’s what God wants as he calls people to be his people, and to belong to his people.

Its not just about ‘bums on seats’. But it is a lot about ‘bums on seats’.

Yours in Jesus’ name,


Canon Rob McLaren, Vicar