Cafe Church : see Home page for latest event
At 6.30pm usually on the second Sunday of the month in the canteen area of the Hall, a friendly group of people meet for cafe style worship in a relaxed environment which include tea, coffee and delicious cakes. The evening, lasting about an hour usually involves quizzes, informal discussions and other activities around a theme. All are very welcome.
“Mine’s a large latte please”
Church, but not as you know it
First and foremost, what is meant by café church? On checking the Internet, the following explanation is offered:
Café Church – an approach to exploring Jesus Christ-inspired faith in a community that involves interaction, creativity, a degree of chaos and an openness to connecting with people who may have different ideas, beliefs and values to your own. The café church model is one that is commonly associated with alternative worship and the emerging church movements (eg Fresh Expressions), which seeks to find new forms and approaches to existing as a church in the 21st century. These churches are often heavily focused on relational aspects of Christian fellowship, and consequently a café approach is particularly appropriate.
Some Methodist background
In 2007, the Methodist Conference directed the Methodist Council to bring annual reports to the Conference from 2008 to 2013 detailing progress made in encouraging the priority of developing fresh ways of being church and with detailed guidance on how this can be further encouraged including any necessary changes to Standing Orders. Café church is one of the ways of ‘developing fresh ways of being church’.
So, with open minds, David Bower and John Warner decided to visit a local café church on 2 June, immediately following the excellent Midweek Fellowship garden party at Gill Dickinson’s home. This particular ecumenical café church takes place regularly on the first Wednesday of each month at Café Nero in the town centre at Kidderminster. Café Nero stays open after its usual closing time and the staff remain on duty, so we arrived at 5.30 pm and put in our orders. David resisted cake – John did not.
In it’s publicity, Café Church @ Nero’s is described as, “a Fresh Expression of church which will offer ‘church’ within an environment that is safe and familiar to people who would not usually come into a church building for worship.”
Once our orders were met, paid for, and served by the café staff, Rev Canon Owain Bell, from St Mary and All Saints C of E, greeted us enthusiastically and introduced us to some of his fellow organisers, Julia Pittaway, a local preacher from Trinity Methodist Church in Kidderminster and Alistair Fuller from the Friends Meeting House.
The atmosphere was relaxed and friendly, and a screen, data projector, microphones and a sound system had been set up in preparation for the programme that followed. A number of people attending café church were sitting about in groups, or on their own, sipping their coffees, filling out answers to questions on a quiz sheet or chatting with one another and waiting for the start of the evening’s programme at 6.00 pm. In all, we were a group of 15 people – the numbers were down a bit due to half-term holidays and the sabbatical of one of the regular organisers, Rev Mary Austin, of Trinity Methodist.
Don’t just do something – sit there!
Each month, café church has a different theme; the theme for this evening was, “Don’t just do something – sit there!” After a welcome and introductions by Owain, the programme began with a short video clip of “Busy doing nothing” and an explanation was given about the theme for the evening and how our lives are led in a rush with little time for quiet contemplation.
Next, it was time for the answers to the quiz questions – all of which had a connection with the word ‘work’. David had the highest score and was promptly rewarded with another latte. The programme then progressed with group discussions about work commitments, and the ‘need’ of many people to be on a mobile ’phone, texting, listening to music, playing video games or generally rushing about. As a light-hearted interval, the song ‘Right said Fred’ was played and accompanied by a video clip of the piano-shifting scene – acted out by animated Lego characters.
Pregnant pause and a Bible story
Then, unexpectedly, there was a pause in the programme when the organisers sat down and said, and did, nothing – to reinforce how difficult it can be to resist the temptation to fill empty moments with ‘something’. This was followed by a general discussion on whether it really is better to do nothing sometimes. All of this led into a sketch about the Bible story of Mary and Martha and Christ coming to visit, amid much simulated crashing of pots as an imaginary meal was prepared in the kitchen.
What is this life if full of care …
In the concluding stages of the hour-long programme, there were thoughts about the need for personal leisure time, time with family, and time for quiet reflection in a crazy, frantic world. As an epilogue, a beautifully illustrated PowerPoint presentation was projected on the screen of William Henry Davies’ poem, ‘What is this life if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare?’
It was an enjoyable evening, which could be described as ‘a social event with a strong purpose and message’. Could this be the way forward for informally bringing the Christian message of hope and redemption to people who would never otherwise dream of attending a traditional church service?
For more information about Kidderminster’s café church, see www.kandsmethodistcircuit.org