If asked to start a new church, Martyn Payne would definitely not include a Sunday school in his plans.
‘My own thinking from more than 40 years as a teacher and working with churches has been challenged,’ said Messy Church team leader Martyn. ‘Like many, I used to accept that the best way to nurture children and young people into faith was to have separate groups for their learning and fellowship. Today, I am increasingly uncomfortable with this inherited proposition.’
He points out how research into children’s spirituality and how adults become rooted in the Christian faith, reveals that both family and other significant adults really make a difference. In other words, a multigenerational approach to faith nurture is something the church needs to rediscover!
‘Of course it was there in the Bible all along,’ continued Martyn, ‘where faith was passed on at festivals as well as family gatherings and definitely not in some special Sunday school arrangement for children or youth group facility for teenagers. The young need to be alongside the old, the old the young – arguably even more so today in our fragmented communities.
‘My own grandparent generation needs to be in touch with how young people and children are thinking – to be stimulated and refreshed in faith through their questions, wonderings and sense of adventure – every much as the young need to see for themselves that God remains faithful throughout all the stages of life.’
Martyn remains excited about Messy Church, which offers a successful model for bringing the generations together on a shared journey of faith.
‘This isn’t the traditional Sunday school way of things with children,’ he says. ‘In fact, were I to be asked to start a new church, I would definitely not include a Sunday school in my plans! There is an argument for some separate age and interest groups but not for the main church gathering, where for me the default must be togetherness. It might be messy but it is certainly the best way to form healthy Christians.’
Photo: Cremetti Commercial
A married couple are hoping that a card game they’ve invented will help couples draw closer and enjoy frank, open conversations.
Marie Reid invented My Truth after writing subject headings on paper, screwing them up and challenging husband Clif to share his views on the subjects in question.
‘I was amazed and surprised at some of the insights Clif shared,’ admitted Marie. ‘Even after 17 years of marriage, I really saw his heart on issues more deeply. If this “game” could bring out new insights for us I figured it could do the same for other couples.’
‘Answering the questions really made me dig deep,’ said Clif. ‘I found it a very valuable exercise. Marie and I have a strong marriage but this game made it stronger.’
The Reids piloted the game with more than 25 couples and received great feedback. Couples who purchase My Truth will get a pack of cards with a total of 80 topics for discussion.
Having established themselves as major gospel artists over the course of the last four years, the Croydon-based couple have performed at over 100 churches around the UK and released an album in 2012, If Only, now available on iTunes.
New, cloud-based software takes care of all aspects of managing church rooms.
‘There is no longer any need to use paper or multiple calendars to manage who is using which room or when,’ explained Kyle Cottington of iKnow Church. ‘Our new software saves church administrators a great deal of time every month.’
The room booking module clearly shows you who is using each room and what they require. The module:
• Prevents double booking
• Shows clearly which rooms are being used
• Allows for repeating bookings – with clash warnings
• Manages items such as projectors
• Makes provisional bookings
What are you doing at your computer screen when you should be colouring in!
That was illustrator Jacquie Grace’s message to CRE TV.
‘Colouring in has been big in secular circles for quite a while because we lead stressful lives,’ she explains. ‘We need something that will help us unwind and give us time away from computer screens. Lots of research has been conducted on how colouring in and meditation sit side by side. As you slow down and collect your thoughts, your mind is given space to dwell on something. There is nothing better to dwell on than Scripture, so that is what inspired the project. It helps people to take time with God and be creative.’
Some people colour in the verses in Jacquie’s books – and learn them at the same time
‘Jacquie has designed cards for us for many years,’ said Anne Horrobin of Just Cards. ‘She is inspired and anointed by God. We could see there was a need for a Bible-based colouring-in book and we have sold 10000 copies in the first two months – a phenomenal response.
‘People are using them in women’s groups, Bible groups and in outreach situations. There are even colouring-in groups in prisons and hospices.’
Mobile apps can simplify and enrich your church’s communications and help reach and engage new followers.
So says James Dickson, founder of Piota (Put it on the App) who make high quality, affordable mobile apps for schools, churches, charities and local community organisations.
‘Keeping your congregation engaged and in touch is not easy,’ said James, who worked in finance for 20 years before setting up Piota. ‘They want to hear from you but with crowded inboxes, a young adult demographic that doesn’t do email, a website which broadcasts information but can’t personalise it, social media sites which are unfocused and limited in format, and ever-decreasing attention spans and patience levels, even the most inspiring or urgent material goes astray or unread.’
If you are struggling to cover everyone through a mix of emails, texts, Facebook feeds and website announcements, you already know the problem!
‘You need a high-quality mobile app versatile enough to double up as both a messaging centre and information hub for your congregation, volunteers and wider church family,’ he contends. ‘Our church app is your one-stop shop. It speeds up communications in rich formats, directly to everyone with the app or specific sub-groups. It’s a quick reference source with immediate access to everything people might want to know, from meeting timings to last week’s sermon, to how to donate. It is affordable and should even pay for itself in cost and time savings.’
Where is God calling me and what does he want me to do?
These are just some of the questions young people face at key points in their journey of faith.
‘We want to use our hugely diverse ministry to encourage them to discover how they can bless others, lead people closer to Jesus and bring hope to the world,’ said Hope Now’s Jon White. ‘We pray that God would prompt their hearts to pray, go and tell others about what he is doing.’
Hope Now is an international Christian charity striving to share the love of Jesus through giving practical aid and spiritual support for the past 30 years. The organisation currently works in Sri Lanka, Moldova, Myanmar but most of its work is in Ukraine.
‘We work in areas of healthcare, orphans and fostering, prison ministry, education and Bible teaching, evangelism and church planting, summer camps and care for the elderly,’ explained Jon.
‘We are keen to meet youth leaders, introduce them to our work and show them what we can offer their young people. We want to give churches the opportunity to have Hope Now speak at their youth groups about the work of the charity, aiming to inspire them in their faith.’
A game changer for churches struggling with the way their missional life fits their buildings.
That’s how Nigel Walter of CRE 2018 exhibitor Church Build describes Building for Mission. Packed with potential for effective engagement with the whole community, the book covers a wide range of practical issues affecting church buildings, from caring for medieval masonry to installing multimedia electronic systems.
‘We’ve set out to offer essential information and easy-to-follow advice on heating, lighting and energy efficiency, installing a kitchen or toilets, dealing with damp and much more,’ said Walter. Church Build believe the best buildings are created from a close partnership between client and architect.
‘We like to think of our role as being a critical friend,’ said Walter. ‘We’re at your side to support and guide, but we’re also there to question. When choosing an architect, what you are really buying, therefore, is not a product, not even a service but a relationship.’
A new electric system that mimics a hot water system by warming the fabric of the building – without using a boiler and running on electricity.
That’s just one of the innovations from CRE exhibitor Christopher Dunphy Ecclesiastical Heating.
‘It is particularly useful for churches in more remote locations where mains gas is not available,’ explained Dunphy, who juggles being chair of League One Rochdale FC with running a firm which has designed and installed cost-effective heating systems for more than 40 years.
‘We’ve probably heated more than 1,000 churches,’ said Dunphy. ‘If you’ve got a medieval or Victorian building you’re looking at walls two to seven feet thick. They act like storage heaters. The worse nightmare is a church built in the 1960s or 70s – with low heat retention. Give me an old church any day!
‘It is a complex issue with far-reaching implications which affect the very fabric of your building. Factors almost uniquely relevant to churches that have to be considered. Noise, excessive movement of air, changes in humidity and of course the visual effect on the aesthetic of the church. To get any of these wrong can lead not only to a poorly heated church but can also lead to considerable damage of the building via thermal shock, distortion, condensation, wood rot or even organ damage’.
In short, warns Dunphy, a bad heating system can be disastrous.
‘Our philosophy on church heating is quite simple: to produce the most cost effective solution to your individual needs in the long term,’ he maintains. ‘The criteria for this will be different in every church. When we install a heating system, we like the finished product to be unobtrusive as possible. We pay great attention to every detail. Heat emitters can be colour coded if required and piperuns made as neat and discreet as possible.’
An all-new version of CCLI’s popular SongSelect website has been launched, making it the best single source of legal song words and sheet music for music teams planning Sunday sung worship.
‘Many of the improvements made to the new site have come in response to customer feedback, with existing users providing some very positive feedback on the changes,’ said CCLI’s Rich Burrough. ‘As well as a complete re-skin, the new site eschews Flash in favour of the latest HTML5 player, making it fully responsive for mobile devices. HTML5 is compatible with all the latest browsers including Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome and Firefox.’
SongSelect features official song resources for more than 100,000 worship songs and hymns.
A subscription site, available to any church which holds a Church Copyright Licence (CCL) for the projection/reproduction of song words, SongSelect packages start from £32 a year. In response to customer feedback, the new site adds thousands of multi-part vocal sheets to the lyrics, lead sheets and chord sheets which were already available.
‘These come with the new Premium package which costs £115 per year,’ said Rich, ‘though existing subscribers can upgrade for a pro-rated cost.’
All SongSelect subscriptions are church based and allow unlimited access for as many people as required within the church’s music and projection/multimedia teams. In addition, SongSelect seamlessly integrates with a number of leading song planning and projection software packages, including OnSong, MediaShout and ProPresenter.
‘This makes song planning and delivery much easier, whether you’re preparing in advance or responding in the moment,’ added Rich. ‘If you decide it’s for you and your church, you can simply arrange a subscription through your church and link your account to your church.’