How not to be a boring vicar (also minister, pastor, preacher, priest and Christian)

Channel 4

Like lots of vicars, after a wedding, christening and even on occasion, a funeral I hear a chorus of "If more vicars were like you more people would come to church". My reply is always: "Well I am like me so I look forward to seeing on Sunday" to which they awkwardly smile and shuffle away. Sometimes they say "you're the nicest vicar I've ever met" to which I always reply "How many have you met?" The answer is always about three at most. Not that difficult to be the best of three.

Being a vicar can be a marvellous and dangerous job for your ego. If you want to feel good about yourself as a vicar, do a very, very small cool thing and it will always be perceived in a disproportionate way. A decent pair of shoes here, a well-chosen smartphone there, even a simple smile... they all earn cool points.

You see, the good news for vicars is this: you only need to be a little bit cool, to be the coolest vicar. You only need to be a little bit down with the kids to be the downest. You only need to be a little bit not naff to be the not naffest. The other good news is you can use words like cool, down and naff and people will still think you're the coolest vicar they have ever met. 

But there is a flip side. The sad news is that people's expectations of how culturally relevant or in touch the vicar, or indeed any Christian, might be, are so flipping low that we can still get away with wearing stone wash double denim and be called 'trendy'. People don't expect us to be interesting, before we even speak they think we will be dull and boring. When you think about it, that is really rather tragic.

The truth is of course that being a vicar is at times naff, boring and incredibly dull (unless your passion is trapping your fingers in tressle tables, stacking chairs, going to Deanery Synod and listening to stories of prostate checks). This is not to say that it doesn't have cool elements. Declaring people husband and wife, soaking small children in tepid water and telling people they are loved and forgiven are all uber cool. But we also do stuff so mundane it would make your eyeballs melt and worse than that we do really, really naff stuff. In the last six months alone I have passed judgement on cakes, scarecrows and vegetables shaped like things other than vegetables.  

So the question 'How not to be a boring vicar?' well, it boils down to authenticity. Yes, you can get yourself on Twitter, you can pepper your talk with naughty swear words, you an even get yourself a slot on a Channel 4, prime time, 5 million viewers a night, Bafta-winning reality show, but it won't make you less boring, if you are boring. Don't fight your gifting. If you are boring (and let's face it we all are at times) then embrace it, turn it into an asset rather than a weakness. 

For what it's worth, what I've found is that more than people want their vicars to be cool, they want them to care, it's not about vicars in Versace or priests in Prada, people inside and outside the church want vicars, like anyone in a public role, to be warm and honest. They want them to show their vulnerabilities and admit their fluff ups, they want them to be able to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. Being genuine is a far, far bigger challenge than just not being boring.

If you are boring, be boring; if you are cool, be cool, but don't be something you're not. All God wants is for all of us, regardless of our current ordination status, to try to be even better, more authentic versions of our redeemed selves. So say it clear and say it loud: "I'm a boring and I'm proud!"

Rev Kate Bottley is vicar of the churches of Blyth, Scrooby and Ranskill. Catch her on Gogglebox which returns to Channel 4 at 9pm tonight.