When I was interviewed for the role of team vicar, one of the key reasons I accepted, and felt called to the post, was the overwhelming sense of potential across the various churches. I could see that it was particularly important to develop opportunities to engage with the local community better with a major focus on children and young families. In order to achieve this, I believe that we need to address the parents’ primary concerns: Where and when is the service each week? Will my child(ren) be happy? In order to look at the answer to the latter question. I feel that one must address the first. Of course, there may be subsequent questions!
As a new family to the churches, at best I would describe the current format as ‘complicated’, and whilst I’m sure there are positives to the current structure (occasional joint services), I’m not convinced we wouldn’t still enjoy those under a new format. The essential point is – if we, as the church wish to grow and appeal to people outside of the church (which is ultimately our role as church along with worship), then we need to come up with a solution that simplifies the existing obstacles! With this in mind, I would like to propose the following format:
1st Sunday 9.30 Otham 11.00 Langley
2nd Sunday 9.30 Otham 11.00 Langley
3rd Sunday 9.30 Otham 11.00 Langley
4th Sunday 9.30 Otham 11.00 Langley
It would mean that EVERY Sunday there is a service at Otham and at Langley. It would also mean that every Sunday the service time would be the same, eliminating any confusion within the community. This change would provide a platform to either adapt services or provide child friendly worship on a regular basis which would help us address the question; will my child(ren) be happy? There is still good scope to hold lots of joint events and there remains the potential to have a joint service every 5th Sunday.
Ultimately though, there is a God who is so desperate for people to know that they are loved by him that he would write himself into our story just so we could know him and would then suffer and die so that we could spend eternity with him. That is Good News, and the churches are ultimately vessels through which this news is shared. If we find we create obstacles for people to both know this God and worship him, then we need to question what we are doing. At the moment the current pattern, in my eyes, is an obstacle and we need to address it.
I hope this goes some way to explains the rationale behind the new format of services. Ideally, I aim to begin this new pattern in June. As I say, if you have any questions please feel free to contact me.