Jeff Reynolds cries 'help, we do not know where this is going!'
It was a cold Thursday evening at the end of January when, rather than putting my feet up in front of the fire to watch some mindless TV, I was setting off for a cup of coffee in Stafford and visiting the newest church in town.
Twilight @ Costa is the name given to a fresh expression of church that has been running for 13 months. It is a monthly gathering with music, DVDs, quizzes, conversation, speakers and copious amount of coffee.
The aim of Twilight, which meets from 7pm, is to try and be a church community outside of the traditional thoughts of church, ie, day, time and building. Over the year we have attracted people from various churches, de-churched people and people who just wander in because they fancy a coffee at Costa. Interestingly, many people with little or no inherited church connection return regularly. That is where the 'problem' is now beginning for us.
Of course, that is what we wanted when we set out on the good ship Twilight. We realised that you can have the best services, welcome, refreshments, buildings, and flower rotas in traditional church but there will still be great swathes of the community who will not darken our doors.
Our desire was not to invite them in to our current set ups but to go out and meet people where they are. We haven`t always got it right and have made changes along the way but at least we are seeing the development of a new kind of church community.
Now that we have made those connections, the challenge really begins. What do we do with them? The temptation to go down the inherited church route is great but one that we are resisting, in favour of a genuine desire to be a new church community. It is at this point that we have to exercise our faith as, if we are honest; we have no idea where this new church will be in 12, 18 or 24 months' time.
I am really excited by that approach as I believe that, in our desire to understand and operate our beloved mixed economy of church, we are discovering the need to exercise our faith in a real 'Help, we don't know where this is going' sort of way. Surely that is a good thing.
As we sit and strategise over our mission opportunities, there has to be room for the element of: 'That's a good idea, but I`ve got no concept of how it will work or end up.' To me, that feels the right thing (and also the brave thing) to do with any new expressions of church we feel led to pioneer. Sometimes we have to just get on with it, and it is within the journey that we find God at work, not necessarily in the arrival.