For those who don’t know, Chris Moyles is the most popular radio presenter in Britain; his morning show, on BBC Radio 1 (essentially a mainstream pop music station), attracts approaching 8m listeners. This video contains an extract from his show dubbed over the TV broadcast – of baptisms in a church in Peterborough – that they are discussing in the extract.
Four things strike me about the comments, considered as useful data for missional concern in the UK:
1. Moyles (who is 35) and his posse belong to a generation that is no longer reflexively cynical about church. Britain, and Europe, is often described as ‘post-Christian,’ but this phrase can mean two very different things, or so it seems to me. A culture can be ‘post-Christian’ in the sense that it has consciously turned away from its historic commitment to Christianity. Church is inevitably then regarded as comical, outdated, irrelevant. Or a culture can be ‘post-Christian’ in the sense that it has lost any memory of ever having been Christian. Church is then alien, but at least potentially interesting. I grew up with the tail-end of the former concept; Moyles, four years younger (and a lot more culturally current…), seems firmly in the latter. Across the country, I suspect Moyles’s attitude is common in urban and suburban areas, and more widely in SE England; here in rural Scotland, we are a bit behind the times on this one.
2. The clip also demonstrates the lack of even basic knowledge concerning Christianity that younger generations in Britain now have. This is a missional issue – the Alpha course, for instance, assumes a significant level of cultural Christian understanding in its teaching material.
3. What is it that Moyles found attractive about this church service? Two things, it seems to me. Obviously, enthusiasm, commitment, engagement was important – ‘I’ve been to gigs with less atmosphere’. The church presented itself as vibrant and exciting, and this is in itself attractive.
4. The second attraction, though, was the professionalism of the performance: ‘they had a proper perspex cage around the drum kit and everything…’ They were doing what they did well. No peeling paint, no worn carpets – and you just know that the after-service drinks were not served in institutional green tea-cups!