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?