Tuesday, June 5, 2012

“At home” in church

We spent Jubilee weekend with Mike and Ann Bossingham in Market Deeping. I met Mike online when researching for the Kids Friendly pilot all those years back. Mike runs “Family Friendly Churches Trust” and coaches churches how to be more “Family Friendly”, so we are kindred spirits. He wrote a great book called “Building Family Friendly Churches” which would have been good to find before I wrote the “Kids Friendly Ideals and Self-review” resource. Still it made a good read and confirmed that we were definitely on the right track when generating “best practise” resources.

Two years ago when I was in the UK for CWM business, I had the pleasure of spending a fun night with Mike and Ann and they “rescued” and nurtured me the next day when I learnt that I needed to rush back to New Zealand for our son Blake’s emergency brain surgery. Mike bundled me into his car and drove me all the way to Heathrow so I wouldn’t have to negotiate London trains and tubes in my traumatised state. Mike, Ann and their church prayed for us and Blake as we journeyed that challenging road. So needless to say we are “firm” friends and it was lovely to introduce them to my husband Paul and Blake and share some Jubilee traditions with them.

On Sunday we attended the Methodist church of Market Deeping where Ann ministers. It was great to be welcomed by café style seating and lots of friendly faces. The service was informal and child friendly. Mike interviewed me on my work and asked me what a Kids Friendly church looks like. Fortunately I was able to cite the church service I was participating in as one example of “Kids Friendly-ness”. The young children there were sitting up front with their families and older members and were fully engaged and participating in every aspect of the worship, including dancing impromptly to the songs.

At the end of the service Blake turned and said to me: “I like this church. It feels like home.” That really is the challenge for our church isn’t it? Helping people to feel “at home”, when perceptions of home can differ so radically.

My German friend Marlene told me as she writes her sabbatical report and reflects on the “Fresh Expressions” literature and experiences, she wonders if we haven’t become too consumer driven by designing so many different types of churches for our post modern world.

What are our options? We certainly can’t keep sitting in our churches waiting for people to come and enjoy our concept of being “at home”. There’s no one way to “be church”. I admire those who are finding new ways to engage with the “un-churched” and “de-churched”, because it takes guts and it requires faith that the Holy Spirit works with us as we strive to “Make Jesus Christ Known”.

I’m a fan of Paul’s strategy:

“20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.”

1 Corinthians 9:20-22 New International Version (NIV)Cross references:

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jill

    Have Ben following your blog and have been inspired, challenged, saddened and gladdened and so much more. You are at the cutting edge of being the church of Christ. I look forward to catching up with you when you return.

    Blessings and peace