write this in mid-February, just after the amazing Mission/Community Church
Celebration weekend. When this was first
mooted, it sounded like a daunting task and the initial lack of enthusiasm, in
some quarters, and the timing (Half-term) almost convinced us to postpone
it. There were misgivings too about the
idea of a “Men’s Breakfast” but, thankfully, people came to realise that this
wasn’t a sexist get-together but a response to the acknowledgement that men are
few, compared to women, in our church congregations. Using the, slightly ironic, adage of Mohammed
and the mountain, we decided to take a Christian message and witness testimony
to a group of men in a more easily acceptable setting. This clearly bore fruit, as twenty three men
came (excluding those of us leading it), from across the parishes and including
a mix of regular churchgoers and new faces.
With the great feedback I have had since, this is definitely something
we need to repeat from time to time.
was such a positive start to the weekend and this continued when thirty people,
of all ages, came to the Messy Family Quiz on the Saturday afternoon. Fun activities, traditional quiz rounds,
sandwiches, and cakes were accompanied by another meaningful Christian message
that was carried over to the joint service the following morning. At that service 130 people, again of all ages
and from across the parishes, came together in a service led by Archdeacon Mark
Ireland, who was truly inspirational. He
was amazed at the response to the offer of anointing that so many took up and
that every one of the Bible study guides he had brought were taken away by
people at the end.
the afternoon, we had the opportunity of a quiet, reflective service. This was something new and untried here, but
something I used to do as a Reader in Thornton and have been planning to start
here as a precursor to Lent and Advent.
Seventeen people came and enjoyed so much peace in a truly spirit-filled
environment. The final event of the weekend
was C.R.E.W. Chat, Relax, Eat, and Worship).
This is an informal worship and teaching event, for 11 and overs, that
we run in Pilling every month; it’s like a grown-up Sunday School with
food. Three new people came too that
which, given that we usually get about five, is a massive increase. The icing on the cake was that, I believe,
five people spoke to Judith Kirkham with a view to doing the Alpha course which
begins on March 14 th .
am so grateful to the team of local people from across our parishes who helped
organise and host the events and grateful too to the team from the Diocese who
inspired and encouraged us when we had doubts and came and ran all the events
for us. All this doesn’t happen without people
getting involved and without the Holy Spirit being in it with us and I was
conscious of the amount of prayer that supported the planning and execution of
these activities, so my thanks to all who prayed for it.
have quoted numbers as a simple and crude measure of the success of the weekend
but that is not the whole story for me.
The big success was that it proved what is possible if we mix getting
out amongst people, working to make Jesus known in different ways (novel and
traditional), personal invitation, prayer, and rich and meaningful
liturgies. It would be easy to get
downhearted about falling numbers in our churches but the weekend proved just
how much potential there is in our group of parishes to bring God and his
people closer together.
the harvest is great but the labourers are few at present. Please don’t let this harvest fail because no
one could be bothered, apart from the usual, few, already busy, people. We need more people to step up and help and
not be afraid that they haven’t got the skills, to not be negative and say
there’s nothing we can do but to take encouragement and inspiration from this
and make the responses ‘Here I am Lord’ and ‘Thy will, not mine’. Lent is a time in which we are reminded of
the call to take up our cross. That
cross isn’t necessarily about giving things up or about making ourselves
miserable, it is about using the gifts that God has given us in whatever way,
large or small, is open to us. We need people
to make tea and coffee, visit schools and people in their homes, help with messy
church activities, help with events for older people, for underrepresented
groups and people with specific needs (e.g. Dementia), to join PCCs, to be
churchwardens, sidespeople, school governors, Eucharistic ministers and so many
all have skills and gifts and, whatever they are, God can use them so don’t
hold back, don’t wonder whether or not you could/should; take a tip from St
Peter and step out of your comfortable boat: Jesus is waiting. I and my colleagues around the parishes may
not look like Jesus but we are on good terms with him so please come and speak
to us and let’s build his kingdom here in Over Wyre.