Thursday, October 22, 2020

The declining congregation - 2

 So, what would I do*?

Project inward: the congregation.

It is the congregation that is the great communicator, but people need to know their faith, the Bible and their context plus, be trained and practiced.

First, teach through the biblical description of reality as a consolidated flow of history in our services, once a month lunch after the morning meeting. In the early evening a more discussion type reprise of the morning content (which would also be a 'service' including song and prayer). A light supper would follow, with 'evening prayer' for those who wanted to end the Sunday in fellowship with our Father.

I'd run Sunday afternoon seminars, maybe once a month, on topics that would help people have conversations about their Christian convictions. These would discuss the intersection of contemporary life and world-views with the scriptures.

Then a men's Bible reading group, for congregants. One morning a week, to model devotional reading of the Bible, with prayer. Friends welcome, of course.

Project outward: beyond the congregation

I'd also start an evening course program: two courses per year of 6 weeks each. They would be designed to have general appeal. For instance 'The history of you' about the literature and history of early Genesis, but set in a modern existential frame to demonstrate the connection with today. 'Parents and children' might be another, about child-parent relationships (Ephesians 6:4 the starting point, maybe).

Next, contact with the community at a more casual level. Children, elderly and stay-at-homes being the groups of interest.

All of these would provide 'services' to people as an introduction to the congregation, to lead on to further contacts: dinners and talks perhaps two a year, an occasional BBQ on a weekend afternoon for attendees and congregation, with hooks to KnowingReal a series of 3+7+3 meetings about Christian knowledge (sort of like Alpha, but not).

Meanwhile, I'd build up congregation-organised groups for young people, young adults, men and women that had a community/social action aspect, with some political action, local community contact, 'talk your convictions' practice, but mainly fellowship.

We would also have a church 'conference' each year over a Friday night and two half days on the weekend. This would involve some outsiders, open to guests, but mainly for our church's deepening and, again, fellowship.

All good fun.

*like last time, I'm not a paid clergy-bod, but have served on a denominational church development and education committee, church management committees, a church planting committee, worked on evangelism 'strategy' for one church I served at, engaged in community evangelism (at the Mind, Body, Spirit festivals in the late 90s, as an example), contributed to small group training, studied at three bible schools, four if we count 'theological education by extension' lectures, attended two L'Abri centres in the US and served in youth work for a number of years.

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