New CofE book demystifies church

A new book hitting the shelves this week flies in the face of gloomy predictions of church decline by setting out exactly why so many people still head to their local churches each Sunday.

What Am I Doing Here? is the latest offering from Church House, the publishing group of the Church of England. It brings together cartoonist Dave Walker and author Hilary Brand to give readers a fresh but no-nonsense explanation of the Anglican faith.

The pocketsize book uses the main weekly communion service to not only explain why people go to church but also what happens once they are there.

Spread across 72 pages, it begins by explaining the 'wonder and wow factor' of worship before moving on to repentance and forgiveness, and ending with an explanation of the renewal that comes through the re-enactment of the Last Supper.

What Am I Doing Here? has already won acclaim from Ian Hislop, broadcaster and Private Eye editor. He said: "Most books nowadays explain why people don't go to church anymore. It is good to find one that explains why people still do."

The book's simple approach makes it an ideal resource for newcomers to church that can be used especially in Fresh Expressions initiatives, Back to Church Sunday or other mission initiatives.

The Church of England's Sunday services bring together around 1.7 million people each month. The Bishop of Croydon, Rt Rev Nick Baines, said that the book's down-to-earth and jargon-free style would help explain exactly what happens when they join in a service.

"Written from the perspective of an ordinary 'person in the pew', this book is a wonderfully direct, simple and informative guide to what goes on in church and takes us on the brief journey we make when we worship together," he said.

"It debunks some of the myths about church - for example, that only 'self-righteous' people go to church.

"Church is for all people - the ragbag of saints and sinners that we are - and Hilary Brand's simple clarity and Dave Walker's cartoons should make it a more welcoming place particularly for those who don't go to church, but might like to."

The book was put together in response to recent research from Tearfund revealing that three million people (6%) of the adult population would come back to church if they received a personal invitation.

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