The skatepark opened for business with a great launch weekend and some busy ramps with keen youngsters flying around. The cafe was busy, lots of locals trying out somewhere new, with one paid member of staff and lots of keen but rather untrained volunteers making a huge effort to be friendly and professional. One month later we felt ready to launch our first Sunday afternoon gathering. We wanted to create a programme that would engage our guests, but not turn them off. That would have faith, but no jargon. It needed to be exciting without being cheesy. Totally accessible and still be soaked in Jesus.
So we started to think through some big decisions.
Have a separate Bible reading? No, but make sure to include some Bible verses at some point, maybe on the display screens or woven into the talk.
Open or close in prayer? Not every week, although including a prayer at some meaningful point might often happen.
Ask people to stand up? No, everyone should feel comfortable to continue sitting in their chairs, cafe style.
Group worship? No, listening to great music will happen, but no one will be forced to join in. So mostly people don’t sing, they listen ( this is probably the most controversial decision).
Just Christian worship songs? No a mixture of contemporary songs as well as some worship songs would be presented each week.
Notices? Only if it is an event open to all, or an invitation to Alpha. No team meeting notices, they can be sent by text or email afterwards.
A sermon? Not really, a ten minute talk on a topical subject is the aim, with lots of visual images on overhead screens and short bites of interest. Talk about issues that matter to people, keep to the positives, invite people to explore faith, talk about Jesus every week.
All age? Everyone meets together for the first fifteen minutes, then the kids can go out for their own programme of activities and games on the skatepark ramps. Babies and toddlers can stay in, noise is not a problem.
Intercessory prayer? No, but there would be a news slot each week. Pictures from recent and interesting events would be displayed whilst someone shared.
This was our plan, or at least our first draft. We opened the doors… there were 30 of us, we had no idea if anyone else would show up. We weren’t able to do much advertising as it was all early days and we were trying not to offend our other church connections. So it was a bit of word of mouth, and a lot of trusting in God. Sixty five people showed up. The adventure had begun.