“Mixed economy” yields growth in Almondsbury

First published 4th February 2011

As part of our Growth in Numbers series, Revd Philip Rowe tells how a "mixed economy" approach in Almondsbury, north of Bristol, has seen more people engaging in the life of the church.

On the 5 September 2010, St Marys Almondsbury started a new all-age service at 10.30am each week. It was a bold step for the parish that has precipitated a growth spurt in the parish.

The strategy was to provide worship for two groups of people each week, so we have an 8am said Holy Communion and a 9am choral service for the pre-post modern and the all-age service for the post-modern.

The average attendance of the services in the new pattern over the autumn was 15 adults at 8am, 30 adults at 9am, and 50 adults and 29 children at 10.30am. The core of the all-age service is the fresh expression Breakfast Club which had been growing in Almondsbury Church Rooms alongside the 10am service over the past 8 years or so to a "membership" of around 15 families.

The new all-age service coincided with the arrival of our curate, Ruan Crew, who leads it. It has is a clear ethos of contemporary worship and Bible based teaching.

We start with 20 minutes all together. Then we split for 20 minutes into four or five age related teaching groups. The adults move up into the chancel and all groups stay in the building. Each group receives teaching around the same theme taken from the Scripture Union Light live series. We then return for a summary and final worship.

The worship is mainly led by a music group but the organ is used for perhaps one hymn each week. In order to facilitate the groups we created two teaching areas for childrens groups, by removing a few pews. New people have joined us preferring a more contemporary service.

As a result, over the first four months the overall congregation grew by 20%. The existing congregations have been generous in allowing a new congregation to worship in the Church. A clear vision for change was with them during a period of overnine months ofgenuine consultation. This is still very early days but I am confident the Lord will continue what he has started.

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