Jackie Davies explains what fresh expressions of church means to her.
I've been going to church for as long as I can remember (I'm 35), and I now work as Children and Families Worker with Altrincham Methodist Circuit, so church has been, and is, a large part of my life. However, I've never really felt that traditional church services met my need to question things and look beyond what other people told me.
I first went to Café Sundae – held at Timperley Methodist Church – to support the Café's volunteer leader, Will Sudworth. I knew it was aimed at teenagers and assumed it would be painfully 'cool' and prepared myself for a long night. I couldn't have been more surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I loved the informal set up, and any church service where you can eat sweets and drink milkshakes gets my vote.
So after a good start it just got better. Film clips and vox pops kept me interested and engaged in a way I will admit that a sermon often doesn't. I enjoyed the table games because I got to talk to people at church about real issues rather than just saying hello and goodbye. However, the table debates were my favourite part of the evening – at last the chance to talk in church, to play an active rather than a passive role. I was so grateful for the chance to discuss issues that interested me in the context of my faith – I could have kissed the Café Sundae team for that! The mix of people at Café Sundae also resulted in me getting an insight into the views of a variety of ages and backgrounds.
Having enjoyed Café Sundae so much I was really excited when Will told me about Diversity Space. Although I was loving Café Sundae and pretending to be 14 again, I was also looking forward to talking about issues with over 18s.
Diversity Space has the same relaxed and informal feel as Café Sundae, but meeting in a local licensed coffee shop means we can have a glass of wine with our discussion too! Diversity Space offers a wonderful opportunity for us to talk about emotive and controversial issues in a safe environment where each of us has the chance to give our opinions without being judged.
I can also talk about my faith if I want to, but I don't feel pressured to have a particular opinion. It's also a space to bring friends without them feeling uncomfortable. In fact, I took my husband Matthew and two friends to the last one – I should get some sort of award!