SOMETHING NEW IS HAPPENING
If you walked into Minchinhampton Church last week, you will have seen glorious evidence of how we are working hard to develop exciting opportunities for children and young people. You would have looked at the 'Messy Church' display of drawings which tell the Easter story. You would have seen the 'Experience Pentecost' stations set up all round the church - fabulous displays which helped young people (and indeed everyone!) engage with what Pentecost was about. We had 120 children in church that week. If you came to the 10am service on Pentecost Sunday, you would have heard the young people doing the readings and saying the prayers. You would have seen and heard the Sunday talk, with a troop of young people and children asking and answering questions as we learnt about Pentecost.
We have been very concerned for some time now about what we offer young people. It is simply not enough to say the children are the church of the future (though they are that!) - they are the church now, and we need to be offering worship that engages with all different ages and people. To this end, two developments are taking place.
The first is that a Junior Church is being launched. For a while now, children and young people have been encouraged to participate in activities in The Porch Room and come into the main service for communion. This is being revamped considerably, and Junior Church will now offer more for our younger members, with stories, music and worship, craft activities, teaching relating to Bible stories, and a very simple structure and prayers, before joining in the rest of the main service in church. We will let you have more details as we move to beginning this in the early autumn. Alison Wood is co-ordinating this work with a team of fabulous volunteers.
The second aspect is that one Sunday a month at the 10am we hope to develop what has become known as our 'shorter informal service' in a way that better enables all of us, young and old, to worship together, with more participation from our young people and children, and yet still very definitely recognisable as being part of our identity here at Minchinhampton. This is not a children's service - it is a service for all of us, where we are able to worship and learn together. We simply have to get better at offering opportunities like this if we are to encourage not just families and children, but people from all situations and walks of life. More details will again be announced in the autumn.
And of course, Messy Church continues to grow and thrive: if you missed the one in June, we have one happening on August 20th.
In the meantime, come and talk to us! If you are someone who brings children to church, come and tell us what would work for you. Tell us what won't. Whoever you are, come and tell us what you appreciate about your current church experience and what you find hard. If you don't come to church, tell us why, and tell us what would help you to come.
For those who sometimes find a particular service is not quite what you would want - i.e. if you sometimes stay away from the one 10am service where we offer something slightly different - can I make a plea? All of us being present is so important to encourage others coming into the church. We need our youngsters to meet the whole church and have role models around them. Children and young people, newcomers of any age, need to meet those of us who already worship here. Our presence is a very important part of enabling our church to grow and attract others in to it. Sometimes we are called to be generous and remember we do not come for ourselves: we come to church so that we might be sent out, to share God's love with others. What better place to start than supporting those occasions where we hope to enable others to find the love of God for themselves.