Wednesday, July 13, 2005

An unnamed dream.

Both my regular readers will be aware that accessible, family-friendly worship is not currently a strong point of St M's...Each morning, when I cycle up to church to say the Office, I find myself living a parable, as I go against a huge tide of parents and children heading towards the primary school. I've never lived anywhere with so many young families, nor, sadly, been part of a church where so few of them appear. Given that on an average Sunday we have around 180 communicants, this is horribly significant: at Gt Rissington, where the whole congregation numbered 25 on a good day, my 3 children and a friend or 2 made an appreciable difference,-but not here. Since my original call to ministry emerged through involvement in children's work, the hope of addressing this was very much part of what drew me to a curacy in this place. I've spent a year trying to build relationships, spending alot of time in our 3 junior schools (none of them are church schools, but all are happy to welcome us, which is a huge bonus) and asking the parents whom I do encounter what, if anything, might encourage them to bring their children to church. Some of the Sunday morning congregation cherish the hope that dozens of scrubbed, silent children will start filing through our doors, en route to Junior Church...but my vision is a wee bit different, and I may face a few battles on that front too.
However, in the autumn, we're following the lead of many another parish, and hoping to grow a new congregation via a Sunday tea-time slot, aimed at children too old for our "Little Fishes" pre-school church, but still too young for even the junior youth group (which starts at 9). The hope is for about 30 minutes of informal worship and teaching followed, very crucially, by TEA and biccies.
We'll start monthly, as that feels achievable..and I would love your help, all of you, on two counts.

Most obviously, your prayers as we plan and prepare,- that I've heard the community properly, and that this is part of God's vision for Charlton Kings, that a few more people will want to be involved, as a team of 3 feels a bit thin to start something like this, and that the core congregation will understand that this is not meant to compete with but to complement to existing worship.

Finally, or perhaps to start with, I'd be very glad of any suggestions as to what we might actually call it...I have a feeling this might be important, but so far nothing has seemed quite right. CK Praise? Family Praise? Time to Celebrate?? I just don't know...what do you think?

14 comments:

Dr Moose said...

Well, it doesn't sound too far removed from what we're doing here in MLPK. It could even be a sibing. Half-an-hour with a mixture of songs all lead by yours truly on the guitar and followed by free teas, coffee, sandwiches and cakes, all provided by a helpful rota of volunteers. I'm aiming more at the 20-45 with small children bracket, which means often the children are confined to colouring or building things on the low tables in the centre of the space. So the concept is not far off...Maybe I do need to target the chidren more closely, but you'd be amazed what they pick up from the short talk.

We call it Tea Time Worship, and it provides the children with an evening meal ("Tea") and frees the parents from having to provide. We run at 4pm most of the year and 5pm from Summer half-term through to the end of August - usually on a weekly basis. Over a year and half, including a Christmas Special and Easter Sunday, we've averaged 7 children and 18 adults.

We have a dedicated core of older folks (mostly retired) and then as many as a dozen families drift in and out with varying frequency. We've even done Thanksgivings in it, and it's the service I invite families wanting Baptism for their children to come along to.

Anyone else do something similar?

Mark said...

Why not call it "First steps"?

John said...

Sounds like a good idea, Kathryn. I know the feeling WRT families not being present - we have a similar situation in our church.

As for names, I'd avoid anything explicitly churchy (i.e. with "praise" or "worship" in it), twee ("cuddlebunnies") or clever ("saints alive"). My personal taste is to use something geographical ("The Apse", for example) or descriptive ("St M's Club" or "Tea at St M's"). But this could just be because I'm boring :-)

pax et bonum

Dr Moose said...

I have to admit that I'm still unsure about Tea Time Worship in the light of 18 months' experience. However, short of shutting it down and re-inventing it we're stuck with it!

Mark said...

This might be completely off the wall , but what about 'Open House'? (Combines the idea of church building as God's house which is there in folk religion with sense of welcome, hospitality - and not churchy at all.)

Kathryn said...

Ooh...I really like "Open House". That sounds very hopeful...First Steps suggested too much that it ought to be for our very youngest children, I felt.
Dr Moose...if I may, i'll email you at some point to pick your brains further, as 18 adults sounds quite wonderful!

Mary said...

I like Open House too - "open" is obviously flavour of the month as our new mildly alternative monthly evening service is called OP/EN (in Gill Sans which changes the effect altogether and makes it absolutely not pretentious......)
As to young families, we are inundated with them (vicar with pre school family appears to = congregation ditto) which is of course A Good Thing...... but I wonder if we may need to look at the kind of service you're proposing for the opposite reason! I do understand why it's hard for some people to understand why children aren't scrubbed, still and silent any more, especially during even an allegedly child-centred talk.....

niallm said...

hey, am new ish to your site.. i used to be a youth and children's worker before selling my soul and becoming a teacher.. what about a name that the kids would like and think was cool? it doesnt have to be clever - it has to let them know that it will be fun and they will enjoy it! in the church i was in we saw loads of growth through children inviting other children and thus families! children as evangelists! maybe a name connected with noise.. stomp? shout?

Kathryn said...

Hi Niall...good to have you reading!
I'm slightly anxious that a cool name might create false expectations... we'll do our best, but who knows how it will develop? Being only the curate, I have a horrible feeling that the service might end up being named by a committee...when I tell you that our youth groups are called Comitas and Koinonia you'll realise why this frightens me so much!!!

Caroline said...

have to say I was a little perturbed when yor lovely parishioners kept telling me about the coinythingywotsit that young people go to. what on earth were they thinking? I'm not clear whether your plan is for a session with children on their own or with them accompanied by adults - is it a 'family' session, or a pseudo creche?

Lorna said...

Open house sounds about right to me. Praying that the committee might agree. And a 4 or 5pm slot on Sunday afternoons, with tea and cake or biscuits sounds great.

We need to get families back into church - and they aren't give more than a lip-service welcome in most morning services, because kids do not keep silent, and young parents don't understand the church jargon and liturgy, let alone the Greek names for the youth groups.

Blessings on your endevours. God put you in St M's for a reason. This might just be it :)

Howard said...

I am trying to think of a parallel from Scripture where the people had a vision, but couldn't think of a suitable name.

Cool names are great, but out of context sound naff ("Chirp and chomp" being a particular highlight/low point).

Go for it though!!

1 i z said...

It would take to long to explain how, but recently myself and best mate stumbled upon a long gone movement known as the Pleasant Sunday Afternoon Society.

Now we feel it's motto (Bright, Brief and Brotherly) needs addressing a little, and also it's original purpose - but we can't help thinking that the name has some mileage left in it...

Of course the images it created in our heads had more to do with sunny afternoons on roof terraces, sipping long cool drinks than attempting worship with screaming brats...but each to their own ;-)

Kathryn said...

Oh Liz...I promsise I'm open to persuasion...you produce the roof terrace and the drinks and I will cheerfully jettison the young of Ch Kings without a backward glance!
I think we could hang on to the "brief"and maybe even the "bright" elements...