From August Wormley Free Church has launched a new event for Sunday evenings - entitled Sunday Evening!
"The doors open at 6pm. Guests walk into the welcoming noise of contemporary music in the background, a variety of refreshments being served, people milling around, catching up or playing games - last week we had table hockey, football and tennis out, it might be something else another time. A poster is on the desk on the way in for people to sign to say they were there (a guest poster rather than a guest book). Eddie wanders around saying hello and gathering items of news to share with everyone later. Half an hour or so later a countdown on the big screen reaches zero and folks gather in the main area.
The news is shared before we are led by the 'house band' in a 'karaoke' number, a well known song, which although not explicitly Christian resonates with the themes and stories of our faith, for example 'Stand by Me'. The collected news is shared, items of celebration, significant events, invitations to other activities, before one of us comes forward to talk. They might tell the tale of their coming to faith, or talk about what following Jesus means to them in their context today, the key is that it is personal, something experienced or felt rather than theoretical.
This Sunday Bill talked of how the love of a local youth work, 'Young Life', impacted his life with a decorating flash mob, leading to him becoming a Christian, and what that means for him now he is serving in the army, seeking to demonstrate love to others himself. Rather than finishing with a prayer and walking away, they are invited to sit and a question and answer session begins, providing a chance to explore together what has been shared. This has proved very popular, deepening our engagement with what is being said and giving a higher opportunity for it to connect with those listening and their lives. A worship song is sung, and for those that want to 'hang out' for longer, their tarrying is welcome.
At the moment 'Sunday Evening' is an experiment, who knows where it will take us, but we can see the potential in the format to do all sorts of things. We want to try and rethink the service so it resonates with the lives of non-church folk today, or those that are on our fringe, for whom the church environment is alien. By trying to develop more of a festival vibe, or magazine format, we hope that this will make an easier way in.
We are also very aware of the desire for authentic faith and relationships today, hence the focus on testimony and personal examples, in an attempt to create community and show-and-tell what happens when Jesus is at the heart of them. We've only just started, but the response has been very pleasing with a good number of non-church guests of all ages. We've still got a lot to learn and develop, but we can't help but feel that something exciting is happening."
Wormley Free Church