One thing I feel a real heart for is resourcing or helping out smaller, or sometimes called 'failing', churches. I am sure this is part of my particular calling but I do think it's something that larger or more 'successful' churches should be doing more of. If you are in a church that is thriving and doing well, it is far better for the Kingdom to help out other churches that are not doing so well, than to look down ones nose at them and sneer at what they are not doing.
I recently asked a friend of mine who works for the Diocese what we could do as a church to have a bigger profile in the diocese, including helping out other churches. We are a reasonably large church and have many gifted people within our congregation as well as practical resources. An opportunity came up for us to send a small team to a small parish church 15 or so miles from here to help run a family day. This is a small church with not many of the younger generation in the congregation, although the village itself has 2 schools and many families living locally. Partly I suspect this is due to a thriving charismatic church in the next village, but also I think it is because the Vicar just doesn't know what to do to reach out to the unchurched. That isn't a criticism of him at all, just that he's out of ideas, doesn't have much time and just needed a boost of enthusiasm and input from those who could help. I am sure that this is the situation for many clergy; time is limited and for many they just don't know where to look to get help or ideas. It is these people who are willing and open to try new things, but just don't know where to start that we can really help.
In the end just 5 of us went to run the day which was plenty, plus their Sunday School helpers. My friend from the diocese and I went into the local infant school and did an assembly to tell them about the event and we made flyers which went out to both schools, nursery groups, library and family centre. Everywhere we made contact with about the event was really enthusiastic which was great. We also made sure we made contacts across the village including running some simple competitions for the kids which we asked local businesses to judge.
|Parachute games in the church yard|
I made sure that before we started the Messy Church session I spoke to the Sunday School ladies about what we were doing and why, I showed them the resources we had and told them how they could run it again, making sure they knew where to order craft bits and telling them about the Messy Church website for ideas and resources. By the end of the day they were all saying, we must do this again! And planning another family day for later in the year.
Another simple thing I did in advance was to ask friends if they had any board games they didn't want any more (for Messy church) and we had quite a haul to donate to them in the end.
In all this took comparatively little preparation time but yet was hugely successful, and resourced them to run something like this again.