Several Methodist churches in the Newcastle-upon-Tyne District stood completely empty during normal Sunday service times in October. Why? Because the entire congregation had left the building to go out and serve their communities.
This was part of a new mission initiative instigated by their District Evangelism Enabler, Elaine Lindridge, called 'Get out of church Sunday'.
Great Lumley Methodist Church in County Durham was just one of the churches in the area to take part. The minister, the Revd Ian Kent, started the day with prayer. Afterwards, five teams filed out of the building.
The first team was largely made up of children alongside a couple of Sunday School teachers. Carrying a large box of games, they headed off to the park to play games with any other children who happened to be around. The next team decided to go to the village green to do some gardening and pick up litter. Then came the team that wanted to 'prayer walk' around the village and ask for God's blessing on the community. The fourth team set off for the coffee shop in the community centre to chat with people, while the last team made its way down to the local sports field with flasks to offer hot drinks to parents watching their children playing football. A couple of people stayed behind at the church to get a barbecue lunch ready as everyone was going to gather back there and invite others to join them for some free food.
Elaine Lindridge said,
Seeing folk out and about and engaging with their communities was amazing. Although they went in order to bless others, they returned having been blessed themselves. Prayer walks, litter-picking, community singing, Bible studies in cafés, kids' activities… the list goes on. All on one day in October; a Sunday when Christians decided to 'get out of church'.
For more information, contact Elaine Lindridge at email@example.com.