The splitting of a house group that had grown in size was the opportunity for new life to develop in a Church of England parish in Shropshire.
While one half of the house group wanted to concentrate on Bible study, the other half, including Sarah and John Wildblood, preferred to explore outreach. The Wildbloods and their group were particularly keen to make contact with local families, many of whom had dropped away from church during an interregnum.
After discussion with the new rector, and prayer, they began to look for practical ways to serve.
A reunion of the two house group halves for a social held in John Wildblood's business premises, a garage on an industrial estate, provided inspiration. The bring-and-share party 'was very successful', says Sarah. 'We wondered whether this was the way to bring families back.'
She and her ten fellow house group members now hold occasional Friday evening meetings at 7.30pm in John's garage. This involves worship, a bring-and-share supper and a mix of a talk, musical performance and video. 'Garage Praise' is popular with about 80-90 people of all ages from the local churches and surrounding area, but particularly teenagers, who are about to be given their own slot in leading the evening session.
We thought we would be for families, but the youth are more keen,
We are trying to go with it and see what people want. A lot of local youth hang out in their cars near the garage. We always invite them and hope that they will join in with us sometime.
A desire to reach out started with people the church had lost, but ended up attracting young people and others with an interest in more contemporary worship, without the formality of a traditional Church of England service.