When I was a child very few people had telephones. By the time I got married in 1979 it was normal for most homes to have a telephone, although there was always a wait to get one installed. For the first three weeks of our marriage we had to walk about half a mile to a public telephone box to make calls. A good supply of coins was required to feed the telephone.
I remember the first mobile telephones. My boss had one. It was the size of a brick and the battery lasted no more than two hours. By this time you could buy telephone cards, and a stash of coins was no longer essential when using a public telephone box. I got my first mobile phone in 1995, but in no time at all everyone had one and use of public telephone boxes went into almost terminal decline. Imagine my surprise when I spotted two such boxes side-by-side and still in use in Teignmouth where my parents live.
How have two telephone boxes survived side by side in a small retirement/holiday town on the south coast of the UK? Perhaps it is because they have been adapted to reach/meet the needs of society to communicate in different ways. There are several challenges here for the church:
- If the church is to reach/meet the needs of society then it needs to learn how to communicate in different ways.
- How else does the church need to adapt and change without compromising the Word of God?
- Is it reasonable to expect the lost to walk off the street and into church just because of the label on the building? Although the telephone boxes in Teignmouth were labelled in the language of the Internet age and reaching out to people who need to email I didn’t see them being used.
- What are we going to do about it?