Our minister is Reverend Deborah Kirk.
Her contact details are:
Office Tel.: (01823) 275765,
Home Tel.: (01823) 334854
People who study church growth will tell us that people come to church for a variety of reasons, but the main reason that they remain in a church is not the inspirational worship, nor the challenging preaching, nor the enriching Bible studies…the main reason they stay in a church is that they have made friends.
That may also be your experience, and I personally believe that most of our churches are very welcoming, with many opportunities to make good and supportive friendships. But ... I also think we can never assume that everyone feels the same way.
Several years ago, the circuit that I was part of was fortunate to be served by the late Reverend Dr Peter Stephens, a past-President of the Methodist Conference. During the year that he was with us we learnt a lot from his wisdom and experience. The other day I came across something he had written which could be called ‘Tips for a Vibrant and Welcoming Church’. It made a great impression on me at the time, and I share it with you now…
1. You could be in your place in church every Sunday. Think what a difference it would make to you – and even more to chance worshippers – if every member and attender were at church every Sunday. People coming to church would have a sense of a live and vibrant community and would be drawn to come again.
2. You could come to church expecting to meet God and expecting not to be the same person at the end of the service that you were at the beginning. We would realise then that worship is not just a routine, but a living encounter with God, in which he will challenge us, as well as offer to accept us, forgive us, and renew us.
3. You could welcome with a smile, a word, and a deed everyone at church whom you do not know well. That means that everyone would be genuinely welcomed – including you – and everyone would be seeking to make every person feel welcome. If we only greet those we know well, there will be some people who receive only a brief ‘Good Morning’.
4. You could resolve to say nothing negative or critical to anyone or about anyone. Instead of saying you don’t like the songs or the hymns, the noise of the young or the stuffiness of the old, or Mrs Jones’ dress or Mr Smith’s jeans, you would swallow all your negative and critical thoughts and speak positively and appreciatively of and to the old and the young, whoever or whatever you happen to like.
5. You could sing the hymns and say the prayers – including the Amen – as if your life depended on it. How alive and enthusiastic our worship would be! How we would be caught up in a sense of joy in worshipping God.
6. You could ask yourself before you get up to leave church ‘What does God mean me to say or do or become, between now and next Sunday?’ How that would transform our attitude to worship and that would transform our lives!
7. You could determine to use the coffee time after service to meet those you do not know well, rather than sit at a table with the same group of your friends week by week. If we did that, how at home everyone would feel. We would realise that we are all the Church, God’s family, not just us and those we know.
8. You could invite a friend or neighbour to come with you, knowing what an expectant, welcoming, positive, encouraging, lively and active church they would be coming to. They would have the chance of meeting the love of God in the worship and the preaching, and also of meeting his love in the welcome and friendship of the congregation.
We have a God who welcomes and encourages and loves us, no matter who we are. May we always try to do our best to reflect that welcome and encouragement and love to others.