Here is 'The Messenger' downloable for free: October Magazine.
Dear Brothers & Sisters,
Our diocese has a helpful vision statement which encourages every parish to consider what it means to be a healthy church. Of course, when we think about a living thing being healthy we cannot avoid thinking about growth. Think for a moment of your lawn, or the plant growing in a pot on your windowsill, a sign that it is healthy is that it is growing; a sure sign that they’re not healthy is that it has stopped growing. This is also true of Jesus’ body, the Church, where it is healthy Christian community naturally grows, and, indeed, we see the Church growing hugely in many parts of the world. As I write this we’re approaching the Feast of the Holy Cross (14th September) a time when we focus on the importance of Christ’s crucifixion, outside the busyness of Holy Week. The Gospel reading is taken from add: the twelfth chapter of John’s Gospel and verse 32 caught my eye as we think about Church growth. Jesus proclaims, ‘when I am lifted up from the earth, add: [I] will draw all people to myself’. Jesus promises to be drawing people to Himself, to His Church, all He asks of us is to join in and create the opportunities for Him to do His work. Within our church family we have been blessed with many strong communities, as our services on Sundays and during the week show, but also many of our organisations continue with healthy numbers, constantly attracting new members, and these are to our credit. However, if we want to remain healthy and grow we need to cooperate with Jesus to attract even more people we need to continually look add: at where it is wise to start new, fresh initiatives. Over the past few years we have seen a number of these begin at St George’s including Christianity Explored (our seeker course) which has run three times, each time with good numbers; and our toddler group which is going from strength-to-strength with growing numbers of parents/grandparents and tots. Growth of these initiatives should encourage us to take heart that Jesus is doing as He promised in drawing people to Himself. One area we haven’t addressed is worship, and for good reason, as we’ve had the aftermath of the pandemic, a merger, and the arrival of Fr Jordan to focus upon. However, with these things now well in hand, it is time to turn our attention to creating space for new worshipping congregations, and it is that which I want to focus your attention on. Currently, at the weekend, we have only Sunday morning worship, which works well for a good number of folks but not for everyone. Sunday mornings are especially difficult for teenagers and their families with many competing claims on their time. If we want new people to come to church then we need to offer them opportunities outside of our current times. With this in mind I have been attending diocesan training on starting new initiatives, especially those for teenagers and young people, and in November we’re going to give this a go. On Saturday nights we’re starting a new Eucharistic service at 6pm, called ‘The Vigil’ with a more relaxed feel, modern hymns, and, to fit with this vibe, it will predominately meet in the Church Hall. It is hoped that both the time and the style will be more attractive to teenagers and their families. This may mean, in the short term, fewer people at the other services, however, all of the evidence suggest that after the initial adjustments there should be overall growth. Of course, we might find that how we envisage this working isn’t quite right and we’ll need to adjust; but one thing is for sure if we don’t try we won’t succeed. We know for sure that Jesus wants ‘all people’ to come to know Him and that He ‘will draw’ people to that end, and therefore we can trust Jesus to do His work as we seek to be faithful in trying new things for Him. This is an exciting opportunity which we have thought long and hard about, and I ask you to pray for its’ success and volunteer if you’re able. May God bless this new congregation and the whole of our church and parish family.
Yours in Christ,