Help, we do not know where this is going! (Jeff Reynolds)

Jeff ReynoldsJeff 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.

The temptation to go down the inherited church route is great but one that we are resisting

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.

Berkswich Luncheon Club – update Apr12

Jeff ReynoldsThe good news is that Berkswich Luncheon Club has grown! It now meets twice a month and has the new kitchen it's members dreamed of. Superintendent Minister Jeff Reynolds updates the story.

Watch Jeff, and Rosemary Cooke, update the story below.

The luncheon club still meets within the church hall and does very much the same as it already has. We have hit on a successful formula, so why change it?

The clientele are mainly elderly, but continue to eat a 3 course meal together and have the opportunity to talk to one another and also the minister and members of the church, in a setting that is relaxed and develops those strong pastoral links.

Berkswich Luncheon Club - serving at tableThere is a real sense of community there. It was never set up to bring people to the Sunday service. To me, Wednesday lunch at 12.30 is just as important as Sunday at 10.30am. This is church.

When the team reflect back to the early days, they would never have considered they would could have managed twice a month. It essentially felt very resource-heavy to cook 60 cooked meals, but now they can do it – and they can do it comfortably.

Berkswich Luncheon Club - soupWe don't have an idea of where it is going… you have to be lead by God and for that reason we don't know what shape it may take but we continue to serve and share food together, as Jesus did.

We are also beginning church in a pub on a Sunday night. Again, we don't know how it will develop but we love a challenge and it's so important to build relationships with those around us.

Twilight @ Costa

Methodist minister Jeff Reynolds reflects on starting Twilight, a fresh expression of church in Costa Coffee in Stafford.

This is a salutary story that if, as a minister/leader of church communities, you give people the chance to use their initiative – don't be surprised if they do.

In Stafford, we have been looking for opportunities to express church 'outside' of our church buildings. One of my members approached me and said 'what about doing Church in Costa Coffee in the centre of Stafford?' I was immediately intrigued and excited about what that might mean. What I didn't realise was that my words of challenge to my churches in previous months had been heeded and this member had done an enormous amount of groundwork to help establish a 'new' church in the centre of Stafford.

The vision came out of the challenge and in January 09, 'Twilight@Costa' was born. It is a monthly gathering on the last Thursday of the month at Costa Coffee in the centre of Stafford. It is a relaxed evening with no discernible elements of more traditional church services but an opportunity for people to come and share together in an excellent atmosphere that has a Christian ethos at its very core.

The more we have sought to establish Fresh Expressions of Church in the Stafford area, the more we have realised that you can have the best church services that are relevant, humourous and non-threatening and where the welcome is the best it can be, but there are still many who find physically entering a church building an impossibility. So our vision has been to create a church where people are, rather than where they are never going to be.

We have been running for six months and it is going really well. Each evening is about 90 minutes long and involves coffee (obviously) and a myriad of other excellent drinks and food, music, chat, quizzes and fun. The evenings are theme-based and so far we have tackled fair trade issues, people-trafficking, debt problems and also held a jazz evening. As always with any fresh expression of church we realise that it is an organic animal and that we will change things and tinker with our ways of operating to make it the best that it can be.

We hope and pray that we will continue to develop and establish this expression of church and that people for whom more traditional forms of church are a turn-off, will continue to feel that Twilight is 'their' church. Please feel free to join us on the last Thursday of each month at Costa in the centre of Stafford.