I spent a wonderful couple of hours at the Bramall Lane “Legends of the Lane” http://www.sufc.co.uk/news/article/20121210-fable-and-folklore-523647.aspx museum last week. It made me proud to be a Blade and reinforced my attachment to a club I’ve supported all my life. We got to meet the finest footballer the world has ever seen http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lkadlo1hKM1qjxw4jo1_500.jpg pictured here with some Brazilian bloke. As a boy, I saw Tony trapped by his own corner flag during a league match, whereupon he back-heeled the ball into the goalkeeper’s midriff and ran off blowing kisses to the crowd.
During the tour, we got to visit the dressing rooms, go down the tunnel and see the pitch (in need of some attention).
Our tour guide John was highly knowledgeable, not just about football, but also Sheffield history. He held his own against my dad, who has a PhD in the history of Sheffield, as the rest of us looked on. It was brilliant for a Sheffield United fan, but I would recommend it to anyone whether they liked football or not.
Clearly, a museum done well can be a positive way of reinforcing the brand.
I was thinking of this, because there has recently been a hoohah about the refurbishment of the Museum of Methodism http://www.wesleyschapel.org.uk/museum.htm at a cost of £1.4million, a lot of which came from South Korea http://www.methodist.org.uk/news-and-events/news-releases/new-%C2%A314m-museum-of-methodism-to-open-in-london.
Some have said that this is a complete waste of money, which could have been spent on the poor, or on mission, depending on what you prefer. I haven’t visited the Museum yet, so I can’t comment.
There is a Methodist Church strategy http://www.methodistheritage.org.uk/about.htm to use heritage as a tool for contemporary mission.
That’s a laudable aim, but I can’t help thinking that so many of our buildings are museums rather than churches – they worship the past rather than God.
One of my compatriots at the Sheffield United museum offered the opinion that in the next four years we would:
Win League One and get promoted (thereby entering the Championship)
Win the Championship and get promoted (thereby entering the Premier League)
Win the Premier League (thereby entering Europe)
Win the Champions League
The rest of us, whilst still being sympathetic, regarded that as possibly rather unlikely.
However, if that was going to happen, and the price to be paid was the demolition of the “Legends of the Lane” museum, I think we’d be up for it.
In the same way, it’s possibly rather unlikely that revival is going to come to Methodism, but if the price to be paid was the demolition of all our buildings, I think I’d be up for it. I wonder if others would be too?