Webs in Churches


I walked around a Lincolnshire church last week which made me feel most uncomfortable. I will not name it, for fear of embarrassing the church warden who was kind enough to lend me a key. Every aisle, every gangway, in fact every area of that building, was criss-crossed with spiders’ webs. These were not thick, grey cobwebs, but thin lines of stretched silk, barely visible to the eye. Like many Englishmen at this time of year, I was wearing shorts above the knee, and I felt the unpleasant sensation of the spidery yarns catching my leg hair. Half an hour after I left, my mind concocted visions of spiders creeping up and down my shins. For a mild arachnophobe, this was not something I would entertain repeating. Wherever I walked in that old church, I passed through endless webs, rubbing them off my limbs. I felt not unlike a certain hobbit calling at Cirith Ungol for tea and a chat.

The building's visitors’ book had not been signed for a year, though I should be surprised if I were the first to have entered in those 12 months. Yet this is a sad indictment of many of our nation's churches- unfrequented, unattended, unloved and unused. Thankfully, those of us in evangelical churches are likely to have more regulars than spiders, or at at least sufficient bodies to break their webs. Yet before we look down upon those desolate parish churches, are there not cobwebs in our own lives, even harder to discern than the silk yarns of Lincolnshire? How many of our knees, for want of kneeling in prayer, are thick with filth? How many Christians’ Bibles languish in drawers or upon shelves, the dust gathering, the words unread? How many of our regular church seats accrue soot and grime for want of a warm bottom, belying our commitment to the local fellowship? Inner cobwebs are far nastier than those in an old church; there are unclean, dusty hearts which need a damp cloth and a stiff brush far more than that Lincolnshire parish church.

So are the paths of all who forget God;

And the hope of the hypocrite shall perish,

Whose confidence shall be cut off,

And whose trust is a spider’s web.

He leans on his house, but it does not stand.

He holds it fast, but it does not endure.

Job 8:13-15, New King James Version