I think I am quite excited today! I had a meeting with one of my deacons who is an absolute star. Quiet, lacking confidence, but capable and creative (though claims not to be!) she combines strong loyalty with honest reflection and has real depth of faith and spirituality. We talked about all sorts, finishing up with the 'New Thing' the church has agreed to start in a pub next year. The ideas were flowing and suddenly I began to see a shape for this rather nebulous 'thing' that God might be doing. I have to wait to see what the church folk think but this is where I've got to...
We are hoping to attract the 20-40-ish agegroup - which given I'm nearly 44 and the youngest member of the church... Some folk thought we should 'do' Alpha but it really isn't the right starting place for people for whom 'church' or 'Christianity' aren't even on the radar. Why did Jesus die? Well someone executed him - it's not a question that has meaning beyond the walls of Christian community. What I am suggesting is a three-stranded approach with different 'entry points' which might appeal to different people. I would be interested to 'hear' the views of those who are younger and/or involved in this kind of 'stuff'
The three strands are, crudely, 'relationship', 'faith' and 'spirituality'
'Relationship' will begin with food (Alpha gets some things right!) and chat at each monthly event. It will extend to a couple of socials a year but hopefully also deepen into real friendship. It seems that actually the granny generation relate well to the 20-somethings, so let's give it a go...
'Faith' will be not be about doctrine or theology, but about trying to explore how faith is relevant to real life. We hope that by inviting in outside speakers we can look at 'faith and sport,' 'faith and health,' 'faith and politics,' 'faith and science,' even, quite brave for my lot, 'faith and faiths.' Trying to avoid the Christians setting the agenda for discussions could be interesting but it has immense potential.
'Spirituality' will run alternate months to 'faith,' not because they are separate but because the styles will be vastly different and rather than a hotch potch I'd rather do each well. Also it gives two different entry points for people who might be interested in different aspects. Without hymns, without a sermon, but with lots of multi-sensory 'stuff' it will endeavour to create a space for encounter with God, for praise, thanks, admitting struggles, finding strength for tomorrow, reflecting on scripture and responding to what is heard. A bit like 24/7 prayer things but not quite.
Finding a name that does not include 'Dibley,' 'Baptist' or 'Church' is essential - but it needs to be something people will live with too. Accepting that this venture may lead people to faith but not membership of DBC (or any other church in Dibley) is tough for my oldies but is part of the ethos. Commitment to disappointment, a long slog and endless criticism - well, hey, what's new there?
Right now, I am excited at the prospect - I hope my deacons and others can catch the dream!