Monday, 17 July 2017

Change is...

Sometimes in the evangelical church it can feel intimidating trying something new.  We feel a little bit like Oliver as he embarks on the long walk to the front and asks for more as we present something new or tweak something existing.  I am very grateful to God that Grace Church has bought into the idea of change as a good thing and as the norm, that people are willing to try something different.  As churches gospel flexibility is a must if we are to grow and reach those around us.

So what's the change?  Nothing earth shattering.  But we are going to be adding an extra service to Sunday's from September.  Not because we've grown and now need two Sunday morning services, that's not problem we have to face, though it is one we'd love to face at some point in the future.  We are going to be launching a Sunday afternoon service from 4-5pm.  At a time when many churches are only having one service and as a small church this feels counter intuitive but we want to try it for a number of reasons:

1. It will provide us with another opportunity to meet, hear God's word and one another one another.  We need one another and one of the fruits of our Gospel Group series on the one another's has been a growing conviction I've had that we just need to be spending more time together to help us do this well.  So as part of the service on Sunday afternoon we'll be eating together to facilitate that as well as singing together, reading together, praying together, and listening and applying God's word together.

2. It provides an opportunity for those who teach the children to be taught.  Our Sunday School teachers work incredibly hard to teach the Bible faithfully, interactively, and innovatively to the young people we have coming along on a Sunday morning.  Often at the expense of being taught themselves.  We want to provide an opportunity for them to be taught as a way of honouring their sacrificial service.

3. It opens up a new avenue into church.  Many of the families in our local area are heavily involved in Sunday morning sport and so an invitation to church is often met with 'Sorry, but I've got...'  Hopefully this second service opens up an opportunity for those involved there to come along.  I'm not naive enough to think we'll be inundated, but God willing it removes another barrier for a few.

4. It flies in the face of consumer culture.  In our consumer culture we take what we want when we want it, that is a danger for the way we approach church.  Hopefully by having this second service people will think come along not just because they want to but to support others.  It provides a very practical expression of love for others, I will go to support those who couldn't get there this morning, or who were teaching my children and so on.

5. It provides a way for our children to see their parents engage with the Bible.  The Sunday afternoon will see everyone in together for the whole service.  Our children will get to see their parents engage with the Bible, discuss it with others and pray through its implications.  This will be messier and noisier and a bit more chaotic.  But our prayer is that as the children see it modelled they will better transition into church themselves and that God would be at work by his Spirit through his word that is as applicable and relevant to an 8 year old as to an 88 year old..

Those are just some of the reasons why we're giving Sunday afternoons a go, there are others, but I'll leave it at that.  We'd love your prayers as we begin in September, for the preparation of the book of James, for unity in the church, for outreach in the community.  But above all for God to be at work through his word in his people by his Spirit to bring himself glory.

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