This morning I met with the PCC secretary of one of our churches to help her fill out an application form to get some money from a diocesan mission fund in order to kick start something new in the Parish.
It’s hugely exciting that there is a keen group of people longing to reach out into the community and do something a bit different. They have grasped that church is what goes on when people meet Jesus, meet each other and meet Jesus in each other. In Rowans words they want to commit themselves to sustaining and deepening that encounter (Mission shaped church).
They want to do something similar to what we do in another part of the benefice. Although this has been largely successful I sometimes question whether what we are doing is a true fresh expression of church or whether this is just a group of church people doing attractional church in a different place. There is nothing wrong in that but I don’t want this parish to fall into the same trap. I am concerned that by cancelling a morning service at church and moving it down to the village hall to do something different at 4pm just moves a congregation from one place to another leaving no space for those that are on the fringes of church life. I want the PCC to get away from the idea that what they do will be a stepping stone to ‘proper’ church. At St A’s I am forever being asked by the ‘proper’ congregation when the ‘other lot’ are going to come to ‘proper’ church. They don’t see that what we are doing is real church. They seem to have missed the point that we are making discipleship a priority and that there have been three adult baptisms in the past 6 months .
So today we filled out a form to get a grant to buy some new stuff. We didn’t put on the form that our aim was to get more people to come to church. Instead we are thinking about how the church comes together to do something. In the coming together we will try to serve people outside church rather than ourselves. We will try to be incarnational in listening to the surrounding culture rather than making worship attractive in another place.
This is the Martyrs village. With all its historical association with social justice there is huge potential for doing something different here.