Increasingly for many families, Sunday is a day full of activities; children’s clubs, sports teams and other commitments. For these families, a Sunday service does not always work.
St. Paul’s Church in Langleybury were seeking to reach those people who for whatever reason, could not make it to church on a Sunday. And with a church school right on their doorstep, they knew they would not have to go far to reach new people.
Their first challenge was how to fund any new endeavours! With an enthusiastic but slightly declining congregation, they had been running at a financial deficit for several years which had been depleting their reserves. So Revd. James Webster, part time vicar of St. Paul’s, went to the congregation to ask for £19,000! This was approximately what was needed to enable St. Paul’s to address their deficit, adapt their space and hire a Children and Families Worker for three years. So the whole church came together over lent to pray and sacrificially give for the planned new service, and after 10 days, they had raised the whole lot. With their funding goal met and exceeded, they began to plan how best to reach the people on their doorstep.
In June 2019, the new service, Worship on Wednesdays, began. Revd. James Webster says of the services: “At the moment it’s very experimental. We’ve tried everything from relatively set liturgy and more reflective activities to absolutely no liturgy. There are usually some magic tricks, some activities, a lot of interaction, but we’re still working out what the best mix is. We’re trying all different sorts of things, and then we’ll get feedback from the children and parents and see what mix works best.”
The service is intended to run during term times, but that doesn’t mean that discipleship stops! Families are given activities to take away with them and complete during the week, with a bumper pack going out for the summer break!
“So one activity, for example, was to keep a diary, and write each day how God blessed you, and one or two of the children were running up to me with their little diaries and drawings they had done.” Revd. James says.
It’s early days but currently the service is reaching a mix of people who would have attended church, but could no longer make Sundays, and people who were either on the fringes of church, or who wouldn’t say they have any particular faith. One of the driving forces behind attendance has been the children, with some of the parents saying, “Well, the reason we’re here is because the children have heard about it and their friends are coming and they love it!”