Is anyone reading this?
Pinned to the notice board in Romney Parish Church, “In 1066 the Normans landed near this church and were repelled by the men of Romney.” Someone had scrawled beside it … “And so am I.”
In another church, the following invitation, “Bertha Belch, a missionary from Africa, will be speaking tonight at the Calvary Memorial Church in Racine. Come along and hear Bertha Belch all the way from Africa.”
Then a forum post on the church website, “Barbara remains in hospital and needs blood donors for more transfusions. She is also having trouble sleeping and requests recordings of David’s sermons.”
Finally, a minor grammatical error produced this misleading invitation, “On Wednesday evening there will be a hymn-sing in the park at 7.00pm. Please bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.”
It’s easy to say one thing and for a different thing to be heard. It is easy to think we have spoken well when in fact no one is listening … or reading … and thank you, dear reader, for getting this far.
Years ago we’d all collect a weekly notice sheet on Sunday which we took home and stuck to our fridge. We’d send out a newsletter with dates and information. We’d rely on announcements during church and every few months we’d issue a song book and a church address book. Yes young ones, we really did this!
These days we still diligently produce a weekly newssheet to give you on Sundays – with carefully selected information (which changes every week!) - but few people think that it’s worth taking.
Our old website had many critics but it served really well as an information source for the church community. The new version is not designed to do the same thing and we need to think of other ways of communicating with each other.
We sort-of rely on “them” (whoever they are) to keep us informed of things that might matter to us, and at just the right time. But too often that doesn’t seem to work. So ACT (the Ace Comms Team!) has been giving a lot of thought to how we communicate as a church community. This is deeply ironic because the people who perhaps need this information the most will have stopped reading after the jokes – that is if they opened this email/article at all! Which means that you and I, dear reader, are simply cementing our already healthy communication-relationship!
Nevertheless, in the hope that this information might seep out – and please feel free to seep it – here is the ACT plan, the strategy for you to find out what is going on and let everyone else know what’s happening in your world:
Communication channel number one - the Web site.
Although the front pages(s) of the website are now aimed at the visitor, most of the information and pages you would have used in the past are still there – you just have to make a couple of extra clicks to land on them:
The address book. Remember, the only information about you on the address book is what you have put there. So if you have moved, changed phone number, switched from blond to brunette or grown a beard, or both - and haven’t changed your details or photo – no one can work out where or who you are!
Calendar – every event we know about is entered onto the church calendar. As with the address book just go to the tab marked “Resources” and the calendar is on the drop-down menu. If you wish to add an event, please let ACT know.
Forums – they are still there (on the same drop down menu under “Resources”) but may not be seen as often because they don’t pop up on the front page. Some of the groups in the church use them quite a lot as a way of sharing information.
The sermon series and my blog are both on that same menu.
At the bottom of every website page is a search box which will find most things on the website – it is a developing as new pages and resources are added.
If you spot something that doesn’t work or which you think can be improved, please send your positively-framed suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Communication channel number two – Social media
Leeds Vineyard has a Facebook page, a Twitter account and an Instagram account. If you use any of these media please do follow us – and retweet/message/like as much as you can! The Facebook page is good for messages and stories – a bit like the way forums used to work.
Communication channel number three - Weekly worship
From September we will hand out a monthly newssheet which will endeavour to inform you of what’s coming up over several weeks ahead. Please pick one up. The screen will have announcements of imminent events – mainly aimed at the first-time visitor. The Host will share some news but these will also be aimed at first-time visitors or possibly for the whole church (i.e. not for groups within the church).
Communication channel number four - Small groups
Part of the value of meeting regularly in small groups is that we can easily keep each other up to date with the information that matters for us. I imagine that most small groups will designate someone to gather news and share it each time the group meets. And please let me know about your God-stories.
Communication channel number five - Paper
For those amazing happy people who manage to live without access to the internet there is … paper. Yes! So much easier! Provided they let us know who they are. We love to send copies of my blog/newsmail, newsheets and any important information by post.
TWO DATES FOR YOUR DIARIES:
Sunday 13 September is the day we explain and launch the new small groups. Please make every effort to be there!
Sunday 20 September is designated a Baptism day. If you would like to be baptised or know anyone who would, please get in touch quickly!
THE EVENING SERVICE:
I am encouraged that every Sunday, amidst all the coming and going, setting up, clearing away, saying hullo and goodbye - God is at work amongst his people. He is speaking, healing, comforting, reminding, setting free. I have particularly seen that happen in the evening service over the first six months of the year. I feel sure that the Lord wants us to offer our community an evening service. However, it seems to me that there are still some pieces of the jigsaw that need to fall into place for it to work in a sustainable way. Until that happens we have decided not to re-start the evening service. I apologise if this is bad news for you and would urge you to get stuck into the morning and pray for the evening to have a fresh start!
God is at work in faraway places too! Please pray for Ivan, Libby in Mexico - and for Jesiah Jay their tiny baby who is still struggling to take a firm grasp of this world. Pray for skill and diligence for the medical staff at the hospital in Ensenada. Please pray for resilience, strength and resources for Ivan & Libby. Please lift up the wider family in prayer too as they do their best to support and care. And please pray that the Lord of all creation will reach out his hand and restore Jesiah to full, unblemished health.
Ruth Dickinson is back with us from South East Asia for a few weeks too. Please pray that she gains much restoration whilst home and confirmation and guidance for the journey ahead.
Which reminds me of the African Bishop who was visiting England. He sent his parishioners in Africa a message saying, “This is a very nice place although the people are ignorant as they don’t speak Swahili. The church services always start on time, even when the Holy Spirit hasn’t come.”
P.S. “The Great Fall of China” – Stockmarkets around the world have been on the verge of panic as China’s bubble finally bursts. What does all this bad news mean to followers of Jesus? Check out my next blog for my thoughts.