We are seeing steady growth, in our normal 19th century inheritted Sunday morning service BUT our monthly intergenerational interactive event is growing faster than anything I've known. In August last year numbers were down at 23 people. This year it was 47. Some were with us for the first time more for the second or third and others who are regulars now. 24 of the 47 were not connected with us this time last year.
So what is causing this exceptional growth?
The event is round tables with children and adults all involved. There are colouring sheets, word searches, quizzes, crafts and discussion topics that people can choose from according to their inclination.
This creates a relaxed atmosphere where people feel they are in charge of their own experience.
We add in videos, storytelling, prayer and Bible reading along with a 3 minute summary.
In the 21st century people don't want to be spoon fed. They have learnt through exploration and want the teaching on a Sunday to be in that format.
Families remain together through the whole morning, but can engage with others in their age group and across the age range. With today's busy lives parents drop their children off early and pick them up late from childcare. They chase around to feed and take them to clubs then it's off to bed. On a weekend they want to be together engaging in family time.
Church world takes the children off the parents and, whilst churchy people accept it as normal, visitors think it bizarre and want something different. This format provides something that makes sense.
One of the keys is that we have made sure that it is not aimed at children or parents, but at whole families. This means that dads are attending and joining in as well as the more traditional mother and children.
It is a lot harder work but is working effectively in mission.