Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Close the building, grow the church

This may not work for everyone, but there's an encouraging story here of a church near Darlington which had to move out of its poorly-made and crumbling Victorian building and decamp to the local school. It was mentioned in the Church Commissioners Annual Report for 2012 (page 9), but since nobody reads that, people have only become interested since it was mentioned at General Synod this weekend.

Here's a bit of the story:
Since moving into the school 4 years ago the congregation has continued to increase in faith & numbers.  One particular young mam and her children came and joined the church just as it was opened in school.  

She talked about how she had been trying to pluck up the courage for six weeks to come through the church doors,  as she hadn't been to church before apart from weddings, christenings & funerals.  However, when the church moved into school she came and joined us straight away saying it was so easy to come into school as it was a familiar place for her. Quite a few people have said that since then

Suffice to say this has needed committed and courageous leadership, and having known the church before the move, it's fantastic to hear how it is thriving now.

We use a local community centre twice a month, and see a similar thing happening - people who feel intimidated/put off by the church building, who feel more at home in the community centre. There are also folk for whom it works the other way around!

PS If you're in a church that ever gets any grief from the Victorian Society over planned alterations, bear in mind that they wanted this church to spend large quantities of money trying to shore up a building that was dangerous to use and literally falling apart. Had they got their way, none of the above would have happened.

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