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Making time for church

Robert Ashton reflects on the many demands that church life place on our time, and encourages us to sympathise with those juggling their priorities.

Faith communities are like any other. If you bring together any group of people united by a common belief, you will find them divided on other things. Within any congregation of regular worshippers there will be a range of attitudes, experiences and values. It is no wonder that the harmony can so often be disturbed by differences of opinion.
Fortunately, the days of being persecuted because you followed a different interpretation of God to others have long passed. Today Catholics, Anglicans, Jews, Hindus and Muslims live together in relative peace. But that doesn’t stop them bickering amongst themselves.
But perhaps more significant than disputes over whose turn it is to “bring the biscuits”, is the unsaid expectation that as a member of a congregation you will ‘get involved.’ Every faith group has traditions, established or local, that bring with them an assumption that each will take their turn.
The demographic does not help. Many regular worshippers are happily retired and happy to fill their time with church affairs. But for those still working, perhaps also with young families, making time to attend a weekly service can be a challenge in itself. If we want to see more young people on a Sunday morning, we need to recognise that they probably lead busy lives.
Expecting that you will volunteer for this, that, or the other can make you feel uncomfortable if you simply don’t have the time. Doing what’s right when you are 35 with a young family, is probably to spend time with your kids. At 70, when your kids have families of their own, you have more time to arrange the church flowers and make the coffee.
I’m fortunate in that the work that I do fits very comfortably with the Quaker values I chose to live my life by. I am able to influence others and often even lead by example, setting up for example an overtly Quaker led business, Norwich Mustard.
So, my plea to you today, as you browse the Network Norfolk website, is to cast your mind back to when you were busy juggling work, children, domestic chores and a mortgage. Expect no more of the younger people who join your congregation than that they will return to worship alongside you next week. We all have to do what’s right and accept that others’ priorities might be different to our own.

The image above is courtesy of

Robert Ashton 640CF

Robert Ashton is an author, publisher, social entrepreneur and Quaker.


For more about Turnpike Business Centre, Robert’s ethical business centre, click here.



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Network Norwich and Norfolk > People > Opinion > Making time for church

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