May 2008

Looking Back, and Forward

By the time you read these lines we will just have held the Annual General Meeting. Though sometimes there seems a lot of time spent on trying to fill jobs, what I do like about this meeting, is that it provides a special time for overview, reflection and celebration.

Another year in the life of our church has gone by – really rather quickly, as I find – but then they tell me that life seems to rush by much quicker as you get older …..

If I reflect on the past year, I will have to mention the remodelled building.

Some are still celebrating what we (i.e. God and us) finally achieved together, others of you may be sick and tired of hearing about it, some of you may feel we have spend enough time patting ourselves on the back, some of you may still feel very ambiguous about it.

The changes have allowed us to begin to develop new ways of ministering on our premises:

Offering teas & coffees to pre-school parents and carers has received a positive reception, encouraging new relationships: Parents have approached us with regard to baptisms and blessings, a six week parenting course has been run, with the group continuing to meet once a month in the newly created space.

New community groups are using our buildings, putting our church’s name into a public eye. And quite literally, eye contact has been made and interest awakened through people looking through the big window into the church.

And last, but not least, we find that the changes have had an effect on our own congregation, too:

People visibly enjoy milling around in the new welcome area for teas and coffees, spending more time at church now after Sunday services.

The more open space at the back of the church around the big window has become a focal point, with prayer groups, small meetings and Taizé worship gathering there.

And, perhaps most importantly, it seems to us that the spirit of this church has been lifted, a spirit of “all things are possible with God” is far more alive in our midst now.

Indeed, all things are possible with God. So, while a building redevelopment is a building redevelopment, and nothing great in itself, it seems to have been an important tool for some significant changes happening in our midst.

The challenge now, as always, remains to continue to be faithful and discern where God may want to take us next.

Perhaps deliberate on how these improved buildings can allow us to be even more open and welcoming?

Perhaps deliberate on how we can also leave our premises and become more of a presence as a community of the Spirit among the people of Rayleigh?

Perhaps deliberate on how we can be church in our postmodern society, a church with people willing to push the limits of what we currently understand church to be?

Looking back, there are lots to celebrate and give thanks for, looking forward – trusting God – it will be good, and there will be more to celebrate and give thanks for.


May 2008