Thursday, 21 January 2010

Entry-level Church

On Tuesday we held a 'Meet the Team' lunch for ministers in the Bedfordshire area. This was a relaxed occasion where we chatted over food, shared news, and heard from ministers. It was good to be together.

In the conversation, one thing that was striking and encouraging was the number of what was described as 'entry-level church' events that were taking place. One church has been doing Pulse Cafe once a month in a neighbouring village where there is no church; a church plant has as its main event, Brunch, mid-morning on a Sunday; and another church holds a regular 'Tea Time Church' at 4.30 on a Sunday afternoon. Most of these don't take place in the church building.  All are proving to be inviting to people who otherwise would not come into church. In many respects they are variations on Cid Latty's Cafe Church, which takes place in Costas, but it was the notion of 'entry-level church' that I was taken with.

The obvious thing they hold in common is that they take place around food, that they are informal and non-churchy, and that they are driven by a tremendous desire to share the good news of Jesus Christ with their local community. Hearing from those involved, the other common factor is that they are hugely demanding in time, energy, and people resources.


Nigel Coles said...

like it too Geoff because it helps us clarify what we're doing a little - cheers

simon said...

I struggle a little with the idea of entry level church because it suggests that all the initiatives you describe - including cafe church and messy church - are not really church, they are a precurser to 'real' church which is what we all do on Sunday mornings at 10:30am
For me cafe church church and messy church are church, pure and simple. They are gatherings of people around the teachings of Jesus with the aim of learning to be disciples.
So, I'm glad you're encouraging bold new thinking but let's not think that these new initiatives are a way of saving what we currently mean as church. Rather they are new ways of being and doing church complete in and of themeselves.

Geoff Colmer said...

Thanks for your comment Simon. Steve, who was the source of the phrase, commented on how he needed to reassure those that were coming that this wasn't just a stepping stone. This reinforces your point! What also he was stressing was that these expressions of church were a point of access that weren't available to many people in the more conventional forms, which I'm sure is your experience also.