In recent years I have often visited Top Church, Dudley, as plans have come together to make it a Resourcing Church. Meetings have taken place in a back room, as the main worship area is huge and hard to heat. When I have been involved in Sunday services, the tiny congregation have been dwarfed by the cavernous building which they have struggled so faithfully to maintain.
It was a delightful experience, therefore, to walk into the church one recent Sunday to be greeted with well over a hundred people of all ages, ethnic backgrounds and church traditions gathered to hear the recently appointed Resourcing Church Leader, the Revd James Treasure, outline the church’s unfolding vision. There was a real buzz!
Home-made cakes and good coffee were served, activities were provided for children and young people, and using an informative PowerPoint presentation, James shared the Top Church story, past, present and future, and explained about the changes planned to enable the church to be fit for purpose for the next 200 years.
Further discussion then took place over plenty of delicious healthy, vegetarian food, served in compostable trays with wooden forks. These details underlined the message James and the team he is forming want to communicate.
I came away inspired and encouraged, hopeful about what will grow in and around Top Church in the coming years, but also challenged about attention to detail. Is the message of welcome, inclusion, care for the environment and whole-life discipleship we preach in our churches also fleshed out in our actions? As Kingdom People do we model lives of integrity? What is communicated to newcomers potentially exploring faith in our churches if we serve unfairly traded coffee in plastic cups and ask for a contribution?
We don’t have to be a resourcing church to be welcoming and attractive and holistic in our approach. We could all perhaps identify one small detail in our building or welcome, which, if given a few moments’ thought and attention, could change the experience next week for those who cross the threshold. What might it be in your place of worship?
The Venerable Nikki Groarke
Archdeacon of Dudley