Changes in Sunday Services

CHANGES IN SUNDAY SERVICES – A PASTORAL LETTER

In the autumn of last year the PCC commissioned a Youth and Children’s Work Review as they were concerned about the effectiveness of the work that a dedicated team of people is offering.

What we did

Following the review which was undertaken by Dan Jones, the Diocesan Youth and Children’s Adviser we held a Youth and Children’s Work Review Meeting in mid-February 2015. This meeting, along with meetings of the Standing Committee, the Church and Worship Group and the PCC recognised that we need to ask, in a spirit of generosity, not what service we would like as individuals, but what services will bring the faith of Christ and the message of the gospel to the next generation.

What is the problem

We saw that we are not succeeding in bringing the Gospel to a new generation of people at the moment and if nothing changes, the church in twenty years’ time would be a shadow of what it is today. So we need to ask ourselves not ‘What service do I want?’ but ‘What services can we offer?’ so that another generation of people in Wroughton can share in the message of the Gospel of Christ.

What about the rest of the Church of England

We are not alone in this. Archbishop Justin has said that we have just 5-7 years to turn the Church of England around. Recent predictions suggest that by 2060, unless we do something differently, the size of the C of E will reduce from the 1 million it is today to only 100,000 to 200,000 or 10% to 20 % of its size today. None of us want that to happen.

Gathering information

We wanted to get our facts straight, so in March we undertook a count of everyone who came to worship. The results were revealing. At most of our services, on any one Sunday only just over half of the regular attenders came. The most regular attenders were at Embrace and 8am, while Evensong and 10am attenders were less regular.

We also conducted an on-line survey among those who do not normally come to church but with whom we have contact. The response rate was disappointing, but did suggest that for families, a service at 4pm would work. Other churches are finding the same, particularly Dorcan and Malmesbury both of which we visited for their 4pm services.

How we made the decisions

At the Annual Parochial Church Meeting and through the network of church committees we undertook conversations about how we could best serve the needs of our community by offering attractive worship. At the same time we recognised that we need to continue to offer worship for those who are already our members as well as attracting new members, both parents and children, and other adults. The discussion also recognised that we need to make the best use of the resources that we have.

As trustees, and the ultimate decision making body, the Parochial Church Council reviewed the discussions and conversations and acknowledged the need for change at all services so that we have the best possible chance to grow as a church community. Much as we may like things to stay the same, we need to change our services to serve the needs of the people of our community. While many people have told me they welcome these changes, I recognise that some may find the changes challenging. I commend the PCC’s considered response to you.

What will change

With the dual needs to attract new members and to serve our existing congregations we are making these changes:

  • Following the positive comments in Lent we will be using a nave altar from Sunday 14th This will affect both 8am and 10am congregations
  • The 10am service will make greater use of the variations in Common Worship to provide a more informal and contemporary feel on some Sundays.
  • The Embrace service will stop; the last Embrace service will be on 12th July
  • The Gathering service at 10am will stop; the last of these services will be on 19th
  • There will be a new service at 4pm in the Church Hall called ‘Church at 4’ starting on 26th July. This will be an informal, contemporary service providing opportunities for sung worship, interactive teaching and prayer, with a dedicated programme for children.
  • Evensong will take place once a month on the first Sunday of the month from 2nd The last weekly Evensong will be on 12th July; the last Evening Eucharist will be on 19th July. This is in the light of the difficulty of attracting and maintaining congregations at evening worship.

Our main pattern of worship from 26th July

for a trial period of approximately 6 months.

We will be working out some of the finer detail over coming weeks.

1st Sunday 2nd Sunday 3rd Sunday 4th Sunday 5th Sunday
8am Holy Communion Holy Communion Holy Communion Holy Communion Holy Communion
10am Parish Communion Parish Communion Shorter Parish Communion Parish Communion Parish Communion
11.30am Baptisms
4.00pm Contemporary service in Church Hall Contemporary service in Church Hall Contemporary service in Church Hall Contemporary service in Church Hall Contemporary service in Church Hall
6.00pm  or  earlier Evensong

New horizons and your chance to help

The exciting news is the start of a new service, ‘Church at 4’ in the Church Hall. We will need lots of help at this new service every week. We are looking for people who will commit to taking on particular responsibilities in this new service for the first six months of its life:

  • welcoming
  • setting up and clearing away
  • tea and coffee making
  • taking part in the service
  • leading and supporting the children’s work
  • sound system operators
  • musicians

Please consider prayerfully whether you could play a part and help.

A further chance to help

We are also looking for teams of people, possibly on a rota basis, to come to the 11.30am Baptism Services on the third Sundays. They will be the congregation who welcomes the new church member and their families and friends.

When we started this Year of Discipleship I hoped that it would lead us to significant renewal. I now ask for your prayers, help and commitment as we enter into this new phase of our worshipping life.

Michael Johnson

June 2015