The 'Celebration of Angels' service on Sunday at the community centre seemed to go well, there was more than enough cake, a few new faces, and the angel quiz seemed to be in roughly the right place between ridiculously easy and too hard. There were about 30 angels or santas in the respective competitions, so lots of photo opportunities too.
- an adults only environment would have been better for actually thinking and discussing angels and the spiritual world a bit more. The service was, hopefully, a conversation starter, but there was too much going on for the conversation to get anywhere
- with so much other stuff going on at Christmas, should we just concentrate on doing good Christingles and carol services, as they'll be just as effective in sharing the message of Jesus?
- the community centre is an ideal neutral venue for families with young children, as many groups for kids meet there. However, once you have a sizeable number of children in the building, the background noise level is too high for anything reflective, or even to hear a normal amplified speaking voice. There's an element of self-defeatingness (is that a word?) - the more families with children come along, the lower the quality of the gathering. The place needs a nice carpet, new sound system and a couple of meeting rooms.
- I was torn between using the quiz answers as a framework for retelling the gospel story, or just using the questions themselves to get people thinking. The former would probably have been a bit arteficial, and maybe it would have been a relief to come to church and not get preached at. That's the trouble, I've been trained to preach, so different ways of communicating don't always come naturally.
- There's also the question of how much mileage there is in crossover events like the angel service. It's still a 'come to us' event, rather than going to people where they are. It'll be interesting to see how tomorrow evenings Christingle at the garden centre goes. That will be Christian content on neutral territory, as opposed to semi-Christian content on semi-neutral territory (a service on a Sunday morning is still Christian territory, even if you are in a public building).
- there's also the question of how far you can push people's expectations. Part of the challenge of Christmas outreach is how far you can go beyond what people expect. Carols by candelight, Christingles, carol singing etc. all have a familiarity to them. That makes them 'safe' for people to come to, and if you get too radical with them, it's self-defeating, and folk go away feeling cheated or that they've had a number done on them. Too much challenge within the familiar format is jarring, no challenge within the familiar format is a wasted opportunity.