I began last week in Dundee, visiting with Kerry and taking part in a cafe style worship service. I was welcomed warmly, offered coffee and cake. I had a chat with a young man who was surprisingly knowledgeable about Canada. I'm so used to people assuming I'm American, I was momentarily flummoxed.
The church space had been reconfigured on the horizontal axis, pews taken out, chairs, tables and sofas put in, the chancel even being glassed in as a children's area. Talk about commitment to a new worship style. The theme of service was hope. We were even grouped into teams for a quiz on hope. Overall it was a very good service - relaxed, engaging, welcoming.
The following day I met with Stuart to talk about "Sweaty Church". I was not going to be able to come to the service on the following Sunday in Arbroath, but he graciously drove to Dundee to share with me the ins and outs of planning these energetic worship services with children. It was nice to hear how this monthly service was complementing the Messy Church service also held in the congregation, especially with it being an avenue for young dad's to connect with church.
In both cases, Kerry and Stuart shared how they were reaching out to families who wouldn't other wise connect with church, and engaging with folks who were still members but also wanted a more appealing worship experience.
On Wednesday in Sheffield, I participated in a presentation being offered by researchers in fresh expressions to a group from Austria. They shared the results of a recent report on fresh expressions. It turns out the two most popular types are cafe church and worship with children and families. Given what I've learned about fresh expressions ideally being an inculturation of church, how much are these services truly fresh expressions or simply alternative worship? It's early days. Should they be the primary faith community for people, then fresh expressions they are. Time will tell.