Sunday, 28 September 2008

Back to Church for Harvest

Motorcycling bishops on breakfast TV? Helium balloons outside church? It can only be Back to Church Sunday!

As last year in the Watling Valley, BTCS is combined with harvest - which means that there is something definite to invite people back to. This is a good occasion to make contact those who have been involved through Christmas, baptisms or weddings - or who have just expressed an interest.

At All Saints, Derek and Ruth produced an extremely competent and professional service which demonstrated how a service can be both welcoming and meaningful. The children produced a fairtrade logo banner and dry/canned goods were donated for the food bank.

All in all it was a good event, and a few people did come back to church and hopefully had a worthwhile time. (All Saints' is frequently 80% full anyway, so further congregational growth is challenging...)

I note, however, that the real challenge of Back to Church Sunday is to listen to those who would like to come but for a wide range of reasons find it difficult. Some of these people simply need to be asked (and I wonder how many of the personal invitations were actually given out?) but others find the Sunday slot difficult, unhelpful or inconvenient - no matter how welcoming it becomes...

As Bishop Alan has been reminding us lately, a huge proportion of the population would like to come to church - but not necessarily when we are in it!

I've been thinking a lot about fresh expressions lately. These are forms of church which are created primarily for those who don't yet come. To a certain extent, our "seeker" focussed services already do this for some - but what about the rest? What forms of church do they need?

No comments: