More silence. Sometimes, Sunday services get too busy and there’s no time to refl ect. Introduce a minute’s refl ection after the sermon and after Communion and make the notices two minutes shorter.
All-age Eucharist. Go for a monthly 50-minute celebration with metrical entrance Gloria, maybe just the Gospel reading, ten-minute interactive talk, silence, short Creed, brief prayer biddings, said holy, holy etc, silence, good send out notices and a triumphant hymn to end, leaving time for a social.
Monthly church night. Try a monthly evening with a spiritual focus, leaving out Lent and August, to help draw spiritual wisdom from the congregation about engaging with Jesus through scripture, Eucharist, pilgrimage, prayer, service etc and end with prayer for God’s work locally. Off er an optional light supper.
Village lunch. Some villages are short of community facilities. Why not fi nd some volunteer cooks and make your church hall the venue for a monthly lunch to build a sense of belonging in which the Christian community has a part?
Sacrament of confession. Make sure your church is aware of the availability of the sacramental ministry of reconciliation (confession) by regular teaching and explanation. Consider holding a Sunday evensong followed by conscience examination and opportunity for individual confessions
BARRY NORTH diocesan adviser for Church In Society
Care for the environment and think about diversity. You can:
• Look at the eco-faith website (www.ecofaith.co.uk
) to fi nd ways of refi ning your church’s impact on the environment.
• Get a free water butt for your church or hall to conserve water.
• Use fairly traded and ethically sourced products at church and at home.
• Discover new ways in which your church can be active in your neighbourhood
• Create new partnerships with local organisations
• Find the funds to pay for community action. I may be able to help.
• Improve the accessibility of your church buildings. • Develop improved approaches to equality.
• Take practical steps to welcome deaf people to join your worship.
• Develop new ways of welcoming tourists that tell the Christian story as well as helping visitors appreciate your buildings.
afterwards in Advent and Lent.
Lay leadership in worship. Find imaginative ways for lay members to lead in the context of the parish Eucharist through interviews, occasional talks and in the notices where pastoral needs suggest it.
Go for the holy spirit. Many churches have been re-animated by running courses that encourage re-commitment to Christ and individual welcoming of the holy spirit to renew the graces of baptism, confi rmation and ordination. Find or design the right course for your church, maybe with external input.
Relight the candle. Invite baptism families from the past few years to a 50-minute, all-age Eucharist on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord or Pentecost, bringing their baptism candles – have spares available - and commend the regular Sunday club, toddler group etc.
Pub discussion. Approach your local pub about holding a discussion on a topical book such as Timothy Keller’s The Reason For God. Advertise the book’s availability two months before in the parish magazine and get a good lay leader to animate an evening open to all comers.
Clergy visiting church members. Does your priest feed the sheep or entertain the goats? Challenge them to visit church members with a brief to help them resource their Christian discipleship.
Would you like to see your congregation doubled within 12 months? It’s simple - encourage everyone to invite another person to engage with your Christian faith community within 12 months.
This may not work out exactly but by setting yourself this target you raise the bar on expectancy - you begin to ‘expect
people to come to faith and become committed members of your faith community.
“This is of course the basic idea behind Back To Church Sunday. For details, go to www.backtochurch.co.uk
Father John Twisleton Rector of St Giles, Horsted Keynes, and apologetics adviser for the diocese
GORDON BANKS diocesan evangelist
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