Balham’s Big Quiz

To promote our forthcoming week of mission events, ‘Balham’s Big Survey’ we hosted a pub quiz at The Regent last Tuesday night. We’re good at these. They’re fun, they’re easy to promote and the vibe is positive. The guys who prepare them have to out in a fair amount of hard work. But the end product is well worthwhile. It ought to be an easy invite because it’s a fun night out and not to heavy on the spiritual content.

I gave a short talk. I enjoy these, though I always feel somewhat gutless because I’ve had an opportunity to speak but haven’t really said anything of any substance. I’m worried I’m turning liberal! I’m just not sure that the environment is massively conducive to a serious engagement with serious matters. It’s a pub. There’s a fair amount of noise. People have come for the quiz not to listen to the opportunistic church minister who’s hogging the microphone. And so my aim in speaking is always limited; I simply try and promote whatever’s next on the church programme for those who wouldn’t describe themselves as Christians. It’s a judgment call. I think it’s the right one. But it doesn’t stop me feeling gutless! I can’t wait to get to the mission events so that I can expunge my guilty silence from my memory! Having said that, I often have substantial conversations with friends because we’ve got the time and it’s as though we’ve been given permission to go there.

My heartfelt thanks to those of you on Facebook who helped me with some witty introductory comments. On Tuesday afternoon, I went to the drawer marked humour and found it was empty. You guys got me out of a hole.

This is what I said …

  • What if the hokey cokey is what it’s all about?
  • Is there another word for synonym?
  • What was the best thing before sliced bread?
  • Why are your keys always in the last place that you look?

Surely some of the great unanswered questions of our time.

  • There are some questions that we can never answer like, why is there an expiry date on sour cream?
  • There are some questions that deserve an answer like, who framed Roger Rabbit?
  • There are some questions that we ought to answer like, if the ‘black box’ flight recorder is never damaged during a plane crash, why isn’t the whole airplane made of that stuff?

There is one question to which I’d love to know the answer. I hope you don’t mind if I ask it. I don’t mean to be rude or intrusive. It’s just that the answer fascinates me. It won’t be a question that everyone can answer. But the question is simply, ‘why aren’t you a Christian?’

I don’t know how you respond to that

  • You may think, ‘I already am, stop bugging me!’
  • You may think, ‘are you kidding me, do I look like an idiot?’
  • You may think, ‘I haven’t got a clue; it’s never really crossed my mind’.
  • You may think, ‘I didn’t realise I had to be, I thought it was optional!’
  • You may think, ‘it was a conclusion I reached after a long and agonised exploration of the facts’.

But my point is; you have your reasons. You’ve got reasons for not being a Christian. Presumably you think that they’re good reasons otherwise you’d change your mind. But whatever they are, as far as you’re concerned, you’ve got good reasons not to be a Christian. I understand that.

At CCB, the church at which I run the staff team, we want an opportunity to hear those reasons, we want an opportunity to think about those reasons and we want an opportunity to respond to those reasons. We understand that people have their reasons not to be a Christian. And so we’ve launched Balham’s Big Survey.

We’re going out on the streets on Saturday, with our clipboards. We’ll try not to get confused for chuggers. But we’re going to approach people and hear what they have to say.

We’ve launched a website so that people can participate in the survey. If you visit you could turn your reason into a response.

We’re hosting two events for people who wouldn’t normally go with in a country mile of a church. On Wednesday week we’ve got Question Time in the Chestnut Grove Theatre. On Sunday week we’ve cancelled Sunday church so that we can respond to the single most popular question posed in the survey.

It’d be great if you submitted a question, encouraged others to do so and then brought them with you to either or both of those events. You’d be very welcome.

7 thoughts on “Balham’s Big Quiz

  1. Kip' Chelashaw May 14, 2011 / 1:59 pm

    Rev’d Perkins,

    All that you’re doing in Balham sounds great and I hope many come to faith through what you’re doing.

    My one question that I’ve been mulling since readign this post – biblically, is there any justification for cancelling the Lord’s Day service? Put another way is there any hint in Scripture on focusing our Sunday gatherings specifically towards the non-believer to the extent of cancelling Sunday church?

    Sincerely and In Christ,


    • theurbanpastor May 14, 2011 / 8:37 pm

      thanks Kip
      Cancelling is a bit strong. If that’s what I actually said then I got carried away. But I wanted unbelievers to know that this was a church meeting at which they’d be especially welcome (though they’re welcome at them all). It was a rhetorical way of underlining that this meeting is really one that they can come to. And should!
      We’ll be gathering and listening to God’s word on the subject, we’ll respond in song (though there’ll be very limited congregational singing), I’ll pray (but we’ll lose congregational singing). It’ll be church but church-lite. Just for a week. Not forever. For the sake of the unbeliever. I’m not sure that I’ll get nailed for that, except by those who have a very high view of what Sunday church is all about.

  2. Angela Almond May 14, 2011 / 2:51 pm

    Bit confused here – in what sense are you ‘cancelling Sunday Church’? – looking at the website, it appears that you as Rev [and presumably the fellowship of believers you usually hang out with on a Sunday] will still be meeting at the same place and the same time.

    The church is the company of believers, aka the Body of Christ.

    If you mean ‘not having the usual liturgy/hymn-prayer-sermon-sandwich’ but rather “having a time where we avoid singing songs not known to our visitors, and using ‘churchy’ language” then that seems a GOOD thing once in a while. If any of your ‘regulars’ WANT the usual stuff, I know there are other places in Balham they can worship, or they can stay home and spend the time in prayer for those you are trying to reach.

    I don’t believe the Apostle Paul met at 10.45 each Sunday to use the relevant page of Common Worship [and neither do I]

    My spies tell me the quiz night went very well. Praying for you as the Mission progresses. Blessings!

    • theurbanpastor May 14, 2011 / 8:40 pm

      HI Angela
      Thanks for the encouragement.
      You are of course right about Sunday church next week. It’s church lite. And none of the regulars had better go elsewhere! We need all hands on deck.
      We’ll be making more ‘concessions’ to the enquiring unbeliever than usual. Much of what we normally do when we gather will stuill be happening. I’m not proposing expounding the Book of Mormon. I’ll use the Bible to respond to the single most popular objection! I’m old school like that!
      every blessing

  3. Kip' Chelashaw May 15, 2011 / 3:53 pm

    Rev’d Perkins,

    Thanks for your reply and sorry if my last few comments on your blog have sounded a bit snarky – they are not meant to be… I enjoy your blog and love to think through some of the issues they raise hence the questions/comments…

    Go well this week and may our risen King be exalted

    2 Corinthians 13:14


    • theurbanpastor May 16, 2011 / 8:12 am

      Thanks for your apology; it was appreciated but unnecessary. I’m not the Pope and so I fully expect to be challenged. Sometimes I welcome it! Perks

  4. gillbla July 4, 2011 / 9:40 pm

    Thanks for your encouragement and advice re: Euston Church’s Pub Quiz. A great night – thanks for the idea!

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