“Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness” (Psalm 29:2)
Gathering for worship is obviously one of the most important things we do as a church. Meeting weekly with God and with each other is the heart of our church.
However, when the extended roofing works begin at the end of July (probably lasting into early November), we will be joining for worship in the hall of St Richard’s School just over the road.
Practically, this is going to present us with lots of challenges, but mainly that we’ll have limited access to our own building and equipment while trying to run as many of our usual groups and events in a new, shared space.
But we have the opportunity to turn a challenge into an opportunity. Our prayer for Project Grow has always been that what happens outwardly to our building would be a catalyst for change and growth spiritually. So this period of change brings with it the opportunity to grow:
in our faith, as we celebrate God’s goodness and provision for the Project
in our impact on our wider community, as others see something new happening on their doorstep
in our church community, as we pull together and support one another in the challenges ahead.
With all these challenges and opportunities in mind, we want to let you know about an important change, beginning 28th July. Throughout the summer and into the Autumn term we’ll be trying out a change to our regular pattern of worship.
This change comes after a long period of prayer and reflection, and is also a part of the new Mission Action Plan currently being finalised by the PCC. In it we are challenged to “review our patterns and practice of worship, that we might go deeper in our expressions of worship and encounter with God”.
What’s being proposed?
The most significant change is the move to having just one main service on a Sunday at 10am. This will be a new service (it’s not either a 9am or 10:45am), in which every effort will be made to create a holy space in which we can all worship as one family.
The new service will:
Be open to all and family friendly, but children will go to their Sunday Clubs a little sooner in the service (though there won’t be Clubs during August)
Be centred around formal prayers (liturgy) used creatively, and include traditional hymns as well as contemporary music
Make space for times of quiet and reflection
Will be a Communion service on the first Sunday of the month and a ‘Service of the Word’ on the other Sundays.
Be a maximum of 60 mins, except for Communion which will be 75 mins.
For those who would like Communion weekly or for whom the main service doesn’t suit, there will be a shorter, spoken service of Holy Communion every Sunday at 8:30 am.
In the autumn term, there is also the intention to begin a new Sunday evening service once a month, which will allow a more relaxed time of musical worship, together with opportunity for deeper teaching and discussion (7 – 9 pm).
During term, on Wednesdays there will also be a traditional Holy Communion service (12 pm).
We also want to create more time for fellowship with each other. Every week, between the two morning services will be a Parish Breakfast (tea, coffee and croissants) beginning at 9:15 am.
There will also be a musicians’ practice each Sunday during the same time period, enabling our wider musical teams to come together and grow in confidence in the way they serve our worship under Paul’s leadership.
Reasons for making this change
We want to try this change for several reasons:
Worship: Many have expressed the view that some of our best times of worship have come when we’ve enjoyed combined services together (Easter and Pentecost are two fantastic recent examples). There is a strength and a real sense of celebration which comes from being all together when we join up for worship.
Growth: Evidence suggests that if churches want to grow they have to try new things. Simply repeating old patterns won’t produce new results. Renewing our pattern of worship (and service shape and content) allows us to reflect on how Sundays can meet the needs of all our members – young and old, new Christians and longstanding members, and not just now but into the future. Yes, as a church we want to grow numerically, but more importantly to grow deeper as disciples of Jesus.
A time of change: the necessary move to the school will cause us to do things differently in the coming months, and present us with lots of practical challenges. Coming together will reduce the pressure on Sundays, and gives us a natural opportunity to try something new.
Trying Something New
Please note: this is a trial period, and will include opportunities for feedback and reflection together – as a staff team, as the PCC and as the wider church community.
But this change has also come about after a long period of prayer and reflection around the needs of our church and community. In order truly to know if this pattern is the right one moving forwards, we do need to live with it for a period of months. Your support in engaging with this trial period as positively as you can would be greatly appreciated.
And please pray as we join together and seek God’s will for our future and blessing on the worshipping life of our church.