Burnley and Pendle Looking Forward
A new beginning for Methodists
in Burnley and Pendle
Fellowship and a sharing of ideas for the way forward in our new circuit.
Tuesday July 4th Group Reports
New and effective ways to outreach to our neighbours.
Ditching what doesn’t work to try something new including connecting with young/younger people.
We began the session looking at where the gaps were in our present churches – what vacancies do we have / struggle to fill. These were:
· Junior Church Leaders
· Children in worship
· Pastoral Visitors
We were asked to consider if such vacancies could be a sign that God Spirit was prompting us to consider doing Church differently…
“it’s a lot easier to give birth than to raise the dead.”
Examples of ways of doing church differently were given, such as ‘Dinner Church’ and ‘Shed Church’. Neither of these examples would necessarily include a sermon or singing.
The question was posed about whether people are put off Church by the programmes that are run etc., suggesting that ‘we know what you need’.
We were asked to put our own likes / dislikes aside for a moment and concentrate on what we have experienced as being effective / ineffective in bringing people into Church…
What really works:
Friendship / warm welcome / Messy Church / relevance / sharing a meal or social occasion / holiday club / luncheon club
What really doesn’t work:
Tradition / hymn sandwich / long sermons / children in serious worship / ‘the normal Sunday service’
Does all age worship work?
After this discussion, we summarised by writing on a set of traffic lights… what we wanted to stop doing (red),
what we wanted to continue (amber)
what we wanted to start (green):
Stop: Being irrelevant / boring / pleasing the people already here
Continue: Food / Messy Church / being welcoming
Start: Meeting where people are – pub, park, town centre, in small groups, having conversations.
Worship that connects and inspires.
What it Worship?:
Glorifying God; praise; prayer; thanksgiving; celebration; singing; fellowship; closeness; friendship; sharing; inclusion; listening; receiving; transformational; controversial
We read the introductory paragraph to the chapter on Passionate Worship from Robert Schnase’s book “Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations” (page 33) and a Call to Worship from “Alternative Worship” by Jonny Baker (page 5)
From this we moved into groups of 5 or 6 to discuss a number of questions:
· How do the passages we read relate to what we wrote on the flip chart?
· How do we provide worship that connects and inspires?
· Connects and inspires who? Those already in church or those “outside”? Can we do both in one service?
· Is worship a tool for evangelism or does it come after the initial connection with people?
· What are the key elements needed to provide worship that connects and inspires?
· How do we know whether we are successful or not?
· Can you measure “success” for worship?
The resulting feedback was plentiful and varied, so it is impossible to include it all here.
There were a number of comments about worship style and the format of Sunday services:
too many hymns – we need to spend more time in prayer;
bored with the hymn sandwich;
use small groups for prayer and worship;
be flexible and open to new ideas;
be all inclusive, recognising the
difficulties of this;
worship needs to reflect weekly events in the news and the community;
put into practice what we sing.
How we improve our buildings but more especially our image in the community.
Churches should stand out - be obvious what they are and what they stand for.
Large clear windows so that people can see what is happening inside.
Have large notice boards so that people can see what is going on. Electric notice boards.
Plenty of parking spaces.
Need to have a wide open door - every day of the week if possible.
For the image of the church -
modern building to attract young people.
Adaptable building for different kinds of worship.
Church to be hub of community.
Need to build our image by all means available - social media- internet - facebook etc
Should we be looking to replace current buildings with new one - warehouse maybe.
Just a thought - do we need buildings - when we want to meet we could hire somewhere suitable?
Deepening discipleship especially among those on the fringe.
At the opening of the “Deepening Discipleship” discussion, a helpful analogy was suggested with music. People begin to play an instrument, but are likely to give up after a while unless they reach a point at which making music becomes an important, meaningful and pleasurable part of their living. Can we help people who begin to explore the gospel message to reach a similar point?
We reflected on how we need to recognise need around us, and also to recognise our own gifts. We must be ready to encourage the use of the Bible, and to speak about the difference Jesus makes to living.
It was suggested that we would do well to identify people who can support others with common characteristics – so that our witness will be, for example, age-appropriate and culturally appropriate. There is a gap to be bridged between our congregations and the people on the fringe who we hope to encourage to look further into the gospel. When people join us to explore, they need to feel fully accepted – which means we often need to be prepared to change. People respond when they feel that commitment is whole-hearted, and that people are genuinely interested in them (research was quoted which suggested that young people were most likely to “stick” if they related to several people in a group who they felt cared about them).
It is important to look for and welcome comments and questions – and we need to create the spaces in which questions can be asked. Home groups continue to be valuable in this context. Building trust is important, and we must never stop trying to engage people and caring for them.
Several local examples were given of practices which have a role to play in deepening discipleship, often involving the work of a particular church leader. However, this is an aspect of the life of the church in which we can all be involved.