The Church of England is wringing its hands about falling church numbers but here’s an idea, I give it gratis, that might have the congregations flocking back.
They could do worse than take a leaf out of the book of the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus’ Name in Middlesboro, Kentucky. They take their inspiration from the Gospel of Mark, chapter 16, verse 18. In case you can’t immediately bring the passage to mind, and to save you the trouble of Googling it, it goes; “They will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them.”
And that is what they do.
Whilst the pastor preaches his sermon, he swings a rattlesnake around. For the congregation, there is the frisson of excitement as to whether the snake will get so pissed off with its unwanted participation in the service that it will bite someone.
And they do.
News reached me this week that Pastor Cody Coots, in mid flow, was bitten by an ungrateful snake. Pictures appeared on social media of Cody splattered in blood. He then asked his flock to take him to the mountain top where God would judge whether he lived or died. Unfortunately, someone misinterpreted his request and rushed him to hospital where Cody survived to tell the tale.
Perhaps God is a doctor.
He was a bit luckier than his Dad, Jamie Coots, who was also Pastor of the church. He was bitten by a snake in 2014 and died shortly afterwards. Snake handling churches have been in existence for a century or so in the Appalachians.
We should try it over here. Even I might turn up!