September 2015

February 16, 2016

Thoughts From The Cottage

Dear Friends

I write this letter as I begin my fifteenth year as Minister of the Beacon which means that half my ordained ministry has been here, the other half being in Sheffield for five years and Liverpool for nine years. I never expected to be here so long but God obviously had other ideas. Like many churches we have seen some growth and some decline and experienced some change. Following discussions in Elders, Church Life Meeting and Evening Worship in June and July we have formulated a plan for revitalising the Beacon. The plan centres around our desire both as Christians and as members of the Beacon Church Centre to share what we have and enjoy with other people. It involves worship, fellowship, outreach, evangelism and mission and as not everyone could make the meetings it seems sensible to summarise the plan here.

We agreed it would be good get to know each other better which will help everyone to feel more involved as well as offering more opportunities for support, both to each other and to the life of the church. To assist this there will be occasional informal morning services with small groups and getting to know you sessions, with coffee in concourse or hall instead of a sermon. The pilot session took place on 16th August and began with worship in the church, moving to the hall or concourse after 20 minutes or so for discussion. The elders facilitated the discussion and was concluded with feedback, prayers and a hymn. The general consensus was that is a good experience and that we should repeat it, but not too ofte.

We have already started ‘Messy church’ style Sundays for children led by Lou and Caz on an approximately monthly basis. On some occasions it coincides with parade services on others it is separate. The church will provide support through publicity and other resources and explore with them how we can link to existing children’s groups. As this develops it could become more frequent or perhaps offshoot a midweek activity.

The Beacon is well used as a meeting place, Tuesday Coffee, Wednesday Senior Citizens Club, Monthly Lunch Club being the main examples where people come to simply meet friends or to be with other people. Other groups, such as Craft, Watercolour, Art, WI, Adult School, Line Dancing, Drama and Quiz, are more activity based. In a society where loneliness has been identified as a major issue we should promote these opportunities more widely and investigate running other activities alongside Tuesday coffee and opening the coffee bar on other occasions. The Men’s Night, Brunches and Annual Cheese & Wine at Barnes Close have been successful at attracting people so we should try and build on this and create more opportunities as well as widen the circle of invitees. We noted for some events Barnes Close is the ideal venue whilst others are more suited to the church. The Harvest Supper will now take place at Barnes Close on Friday 18 September. We need to build on the contacts we have by increasing opportunities and publicity and by getting involved in groups and activities to build relationships.

We are all in the church either because we grew up in it, because we wandered in one Sunday or because someone invited us to go with them one Sunday. As I said earlier we want others to enjoy what we have so one of our mains aims is to increase attendance at worship activities, including but not only Sunday mornings. This will, we hope, benefit both the people we invite and us! However it is not simply about the Beacon our main aim is to introduce people to Jesus. We are going to use the “Season of Invitation” approach which covers the series of special occasions from September to Christmas to invite people to join us on the special occasions of Harvest, Remembrance, Lights of Love, Gift Service, Candlelight Carol Service & Christmas Communion. Special invitations will be available for each occasion and we will all be invited to take some to give to family, neighbours and friends.

To help us to grow together, share ideas and draw closer to God we are going to introduce monthly Tuesday evening discussion sessions led by Ian following Powerhouse. They will take the form of ‘what the Bible says about…..’. Possible initial topics are Worship, Immigration, Prayer, Social Justice, Healing, War and Peace, Giving, The Environment, End Times, God, Jesus, Holy Spirit and Heaven & Hell and then members can also make suggestions for future sessions. They begin on 29 September at 7pm with Powerhouse Prayer, What the Bible says about Worship and will finish for 9pm.

I am looking forward to another exciting year at the Beacon, I hope you are too.