The 12th and final theme we are exploring for #MoreThanSunday is Invitation.
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And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation."
Podcast episode 12: Invitation
In October 2019, the Horwich and Rivington team launched Alive + Free, a new evening service, that took place once a month at St Elizabeth's Church Horwich (and will resume once we are safely allowed to do so). It was slightly different from our regular service in that the liturgy was removed and replaced with large blocks worship which allowed for the congregation to spend time worshipping in their own style; dancing, singing, sitting, even flag-waving!
We spent the unstructured time worshipping and waiting on God. We had a prayer ministry team that was available during that time for anyone who wished to join them. Between the worship time, we also had a talk/sermon. We tried to get as many guest speakers to come and speak as we could, providing different insights and approaches and also keeping things more interesting. The speaker was encouraged to go maybe a bit deeper than on a typical Sunday morning and to challenge and inspire us, to live out a full Christian life in the spirit of #MoreThanSunday.
The hope for the service was that it would attract young adults and provide a more contemporary style of worship to the team of churches but interestingly it had very wide-ranging demographics from teenagers to seniors.
When we launched the service back in October, we wanted enough of a congregation to start us off. So we started by inviting each of the four churches within our team to come along. Now, we were aware that this would be something very different to what most of our congregations would be used to, but we wanted to emphasise that this did not make it wrong!
When we invited them, we asked them to come and try it at least once, before making their mind up about it and to come with no presumptions of what it would be like. After all, God often works most after we step out of our comfort zones! And when we launched we found a lot of people did come (we nearly ran out of cake!!) But what was most interesting and exciting was the number of people who came up to me afterwards and told me that they expected to hate it and had come to support the launch and see what it was like, but actually found that they very much enjoyed it and would come back. A lot of these people now make up our regulars!
We also tried to encourage a culture of invitation, we reminded people to bring a friend at each service to show them what church can be like and to share with someone what they get up to on a Sunday. Rather than flyers, we made invitations with a blank space to write names to personalise, in an attempt to make it feel a bit more natural to invite someone!
Toby Harley, a member of St Elizabeth’s Church, Horwich
- Invite a friend or family member who doesn’t usually attend church to experience your church community, whatever that looks for you at the moment: perhaps it’s a zoom prayer group, or an online service. Perhaps it’s the Church of England worship hotline, for those without internet.
- Think of someone you know who might be feeling isolated or cut off. How can you have an attitude of invitation towards them? What would it mean to invite them into friendship with you at the moment?
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