Today I have been asked to take a 5 minute slot in a seminar at Baptist Assembly and I feel disproportionately honoured! The seminar is the 'Small Churches' slot which is using a theme 'Being set free from/to ...' and I have been asked to share a few reflections on our experiences of leaving a building and the new opportunities that have emerged.
I think we have been set free to be a misisonary community, to be pioneers in a new experience of church expression in Dibley & District, and, surprisingly and in a positive way, to be the church people don't go to!
In our last church magazine I noted that we had been active in events and intitiatives that brought us into contact with around 500 people last year. I do think that for some of them we are now 'the church they don't go to.' Furthermore, I think this is actually positive! Why? Because prior to that many of them did not have a 'church they don't go to' but now they have us. If the dear old BUGB recorded adult numbers on the same basis as it does children (i.e. all those who come to your midweek things) we'd be talking of about 50 more than our membership figures - so more than double our size.
Yesterday the school caretaker came to me before the service and asked if we could mention in our prayers a friend of his who had died the day before at the age of 34. It has taken two years of general chit chat and a genuine interest in him and his wife, but we have reached a level of trust where he felt it was alright to ask. I was privileged that we were able to meet his need to do something for his friend, and that he felt we were safe to approach.
During yesterday's service we covenanted together and received into membership our first new member for three years.
After the service we hung around drinking tea/coffee and chatting in a way that would have been inconceiveable even 12 months ago.
OK there's a long road ahead of us, and we don't know what it looks like, but by heck we've come a long way.
Set free? You betcha!
Oh, and my five minutes of fame will probably be around 4p.m. on the Sunday, in case you want to avoid it!!