The Social Temperature of a Church
Christian World
1 Corinthians 16:19-21
The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.

While doctrines are being discussed in the pulpit, and ecclesiastical distinctions expressed in modes of worship and of discipline, there remains to be studied something quite as essential as these to the future of religion, in the common life that is going on beneath them, the varying phases of which it is impossible for any definition to express. Not second in importance to a Church's teaching or organisation, is the question of its temperature. The necessity of urging this is not diminished by the consideration of the extreme difficulty of ascertaining what, in Church life, is the exact figure at which the social thermometer should stand. The social habits of our English churches, to confine ourselves for a moment to them, will necessarily be determined to a large extent by our characteristics as a race; and enthusiastic sociability is not, as a rule, regarded. as one of these. A witty Frenchman has observed that not only is England an island, but every Englishman is an island. The haughty reserve of manner for which he is celebrated on the Continent, and which at home carries him through a long day's journey in a railway carriage without opening his lips to his neighbour, is not likely to be cast on one side when he enters the church door. The difficulty in making advances to strangers in congregations is greatly enhanced by the presence in no inconsiderable numbers of this class. They resent the friendly greeting as an intrusion, and are capable of rewarding it with the look which, in one of Lord Beaconsfield's novels, a great lady bestows upon a person just introduced to her; a look conveying to its recipient the impression that she has never seen him before, that she has no interest in seeing him now, and not the slightest desire ever to set eyes on him again. One of the indispensable elements in the training of a Church social tactician is the cultivation of the faculty of recognising these people at a glance, and of knowing how to deal with them. There are those who value social recognition, and to whom the extension of a ready sympathy is of the first importance, both in regard to their own comfort and as a means of attaching them to the fellowship. Here, again, however, there are subdivisions. Some of these people possess in themselves the social faculty. They have "the coming on humour," and without much outside help will by the force of their own general attractiveness and geniality, speedily make their way and find themselves at home. Others, depending equally on the appreciation and sympathy of their fellows, and equally expecting it, embarrass their neighbours by the fact that they hoist no signals for a parley. They shut themselves up in their own interior, the windows of their nature shut, and the blinds drawn, and then are astonished and aggrieved that no one knocks at the door. The question of the social temperature of a Church depends for its answer to a considerable extent on the kind of heating apparatus there is in the pulpit. But warmth, fervour, and good-heartedness in the preacher are not enough. There must be organisation as well. Apart from this, the most impassioned discourse on brotherly love will not break through the reserve which prevents Jones in the pew from holding out a hand to Brown, the unknown, in the aisle. The idea of an "Outlook Committee" attached to each Church is excellent. It should be a tolerably large one, of both sexes, and representing the cream of the community in intelligence, tact, good feeling, knowledge of the congregation and of human nature in general. A military officer once said that in a reputedly brave regiment perhaps one in ten would be really brave, it being the example of this tenth that kept the others in line. In a reputedly sociable Church there may, perhaps, be one in ten with the genuine social gift. It is from these, the men and women whose natural grace of temperament has been heightened and enriched by the spirit of Christ; who have the quick intelligence that both reads and remembers faces; who know and respect the social convenances, when to speak and when to refrain from speaking; whose heart knows by instinct the lonely and friendless, and by instinct goes out towards them, that the Look-out Committee should be recruited. Where it is not already in existence it is time to organise it. There is plenty for it to do. The proper comprehension of the conditions of this form of service, and the systematic development of all its capabilities, will put a new face upon many a community that is now languishing from neglect of a vital point.

(Christian World.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.

WEB: The assemblies of Asia greet you. Aquila and Priscilla greet you much in the Lord, together with the assembly that is in their house.

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