(It’s guest post Friday! Here’s one from Stephen Pepper, who blogs about youth work and youth ministry at YouthWorkin’ It. You can also follow him on Twitter @youthworkinit. If you want to write a guest post for SCL, here’s how!)
The U.S. vs. the U.K. by Stephen Pepper.
The recent popularity of the hit show Downton Abbey has inspired a whole new generation of people to ask the question, “Is that what life is really like in England?” And the quick answer is, “Yes, yes it is. Almost exactly.” In addition to trying to keep my countless footmen, valets and housemaids in order, we Brits are also under tremendous pressure to make sure words like “Downton” are spelled and pronounced correctly. (Be honest, how tempting is it to spell that word as “Downtown?”) Although I can’t speak to every nuance to British life in this post, I think I can clear up a few differences about church. After growing up in the U.K. and moving to the U.S. two years ago, I’ve noticed quite a lot of differences in how church is done on a Sunday. Here’s a (not so) cultural guide for both countries:
U.S. – A lot of churches use magic wafers (magic like Gandalf, not Harry Potter). These wafers are made of some kind of strange synthetic material (due to transubstantiation?) that disappears if a drop of water touches it, yet still manages to get stuck to the roof of your mouth so you look like a weirdo when trying to dislodge it.
U.K. – Most churches use actual bread (Dr. Atkins passed us by).
U.S. – You get the wine in a ridiculously miniature plastic cup, that is surprisingly easy to break.
U.K. – Everyone sips wine from a chalice, although I prefer thinking of it as a goblet so I can pretend to be Henry VIII.
U.S. – To get to church, a lot of Americans go on an epic journey most Brits would think of as a road trip.
U.K. – You don’t go to a church that means being in the car more than 5 minutes.
Drinks and snacks:
U.S. – Go to church and you’ll get good quality coffee and donuts. Depending on the church, you might even get a breakfast sandwich.
U.K. – You’ll get a cup of tea and, if you’re lucky (sorry, blessed), a Chocolate Hobnob. And by tea, I’m not talking the flavorless Lipton stuff in tiny square bags on a string you have here in America. I’m talking proper tea–PG Tips in pyramid shaped teabags. With milk. And no strings attached.
U.S. – You’ll never have any problem finding somewhere to park your car. Not only that, but the spaces are designed for massive American vehicles and can fit 5 Smart cars if you Tetris them well enough.
U.K. – Your church is doing well if it has 10 parking spots. After all, a lot of these churches were built before horses even had carts. Besides, your church is so local, you can walk!
U.S. – People tend to go out to lunch after church, somewhere like Golden Corral. For non-U.S. residents, Golden Corral is a chain of all-you-can-eat buffets lovingly referred to as “The Golden Trough.” We’re allowed to go once a year, and only to the “posh” one in Virginia Beach. Yes, I did just refer to a Golden Corral as “posh”.
U.K. – We couldn’t be more stereotypical and love a good roast dinner. Which we chew with our bad teeth. While watching Monty Python. And listening to The Beatles. Before a spot of hooliganism.
Have you ever visited a church overseas? What differences did you notice?
(For more great stuff from Stephen, check out his blog at YouthWorkin’ It.)