The latest Church to host a Together Weekend was Lanchester Methodist Church in the North West Durham Circuit.
It was obvious from my 1st meeting with the planning group that they had lots of ideas – particularly with regards to the mission activities on the Sunday morning. There was a desire to make sure that all ages were catered for. Lanchester is blessed with lots of children and young people and they work hard to make sure they are included. ‘Included’ is a word that describes Lanchester well, it’s a friendly vibrant community of believers.
So, with a small team (including two young people from the One Opportunity project) we started on the Friday evening with supper before our first session ‘Together with God’. As always it was encouraging to see people engage with the material and simply enjoy the time given to being in each other’s company.
During the Saturday we covered three more sessions
– Hands together (prayer)
– Togetherness (church community)
– Together in mission
This is already a busy Church involved with lots of mission and good work. Yet still it was important to think about how they pray and work together. It was particularly good to see groups prayer walk the building, thinking about which activities happened in which rooms and asking God for insight into how to best pray for them.
On Sunday morning the smell of bacon filled the air as I approached the Church. The young people were making bacon sandwiches to give out to anyone passing by. This was in response to the challenge to ‘get out of church’ and after a short time of worship and commissioning more teams of people left for their pre-arranged activities. Lanchester had been creative in thinking of new things to do. As well as the normal prayer walks and litter picking, they also had; kids activities in the park, craft table at the garden centre, Table Talk in the café. One lady also stayed home that morning and put on a coffee morning for her neighbours…wonderful! One lady took a gift bag taking a coffee sachet, a message and a home-baked chocolate muffin to every checkout operator in her local Tesco, and was bowled over by the appreciation she received.
They gathered back at the evening service to share stories and prayer. The morning activities had gone very well. The garden centre was very grateful for the visit and offered an invitation to return. The bacon butties had been appreciated and one of those giving them out said he felt humbled by how much people were prepared to ‘receive a blessing’ even through him. Some of the newer people reported that they felt included and as if they really belonged. One shared how she had been able to pray out loud for the first time and another talked of renewed confidence in all that God was calling her to do.
On the whole it was felt that the weekend was a catalyst for further development and change and a shared commitment to be open to God. Join with me as I pray for Lanchester that God will continue to work in them and through them.
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