Over last Winter and Spring, our Minister, Rev. Christopher Damp, took a sabbatical from his ministry at the church. This is something ministers are encouraged to do for their own spiritual refreshment, and to learn new ideas and skills.
Chris spent some time in guided retreat and reflection, and then some time visiting a great variety of churches, to learn good ways of making the gospel come alive to people in the twenty-first century.
One thing he found was that he was excited by all that was happening at Bunyan Meeting! As he described the changes and activities, and the life of our church, he was inspired anew by what he was saying. God is certainly at work at Bunyan Meeting.
He learnt that there is no ‘easy fix’ that guarantees success. Churches of all different sizes, settings and kinds of worship were equally effective or ineffective in proclaiming God’s love.
But he did draw out four points that he asked us to discuss. And we did so, at our church meeting in May and workshops after worship at a Sunday Service on 17th June. These were:
personal spiritual life and devotion;
personal mission through our authentic relationship with God;
church involvement in the community
At our church meeting and Sunday workshop, church members got stuck into discussion with great enthusiasm, and came up with some great ideas. We are still getting these from the flips chart pages and notes, but here are three:
Involve more people in our services. As a congregationally ordered church, we believe that God can speak to us through every member of the church. We already invite people to read and lead prayers, but we feel there are more ways and more creative ways that God can reach out through our membership.
Increase the range of worship. An idea that has been simmering for some time is to hold different styles of worship for different age-groups. Like many churches, we have held forms of Messy Church and Café Church. We would like to bring all this together into a regular time of worship aimed at a wider age range than at present.
Acquire and use state of the art audio visual equipment. I guess every church has to bite this bullet at some time. We have struggled long enough with rickety screens and unresponsive projectors. It is time to install a good system and train some of our people with the skills to operate it.
These may not be ground breaking ideas, but we feel that they are the way God is leading us at present. We have a huge amount of activity in the life of our church, with a coffee shop and lunch club, museum and arts workshops, and links with lots of community organisations. We have enormous plans for future involvement in the life of our town. But at the heart of all this is the worshipping life of the church, and we need to give attention to this at this time.