Monday, 1 June, 2009

Sally Gaze describes the Alpha course she ran with seven young mums from four villages in her Norfolk benefice as

the easiest ever.

They were all very alike and gelled very quickly,

she says. The women were drawn from local mother and toddler groups and were not previously churchgoers. The Alpha course developed into a daytime cell church, one of several forming part of the 'mixed economy' of the Tas Valley benefice, of which Sally is team rector.

In this group we had shared and prayed... we had struggled to engage with the Bible over the noise of ten toddlers and we had changed and grown,

Sally says.

They had also begun to think about mission. Three of the women, each from different villages, had the idea of putting on something for toddlers at church, specifically a music group. As their Alpha course helped them to bond and grow into a church relationship with one another, these three formed a team to organise a children's service supported by their fellow cell members.

With Sally they visited a neighbouring benefice's children's service,

and got the bug of it,

Sally says. A monthly service for toddlers, 4All, is held at 4 o'clock on Sundays including around 40 minutes of 'lively, child-focused worship', followed by high tea for the children and tea and cake for the adults.

Young women with a life stage in common discovered church together, then went on to share their new life of faith with others

Initially, 4All was planned by Sally with input from the women. These roles have now been reversed, with the women planning and Sally helping out.

Very importantly, they invite people,

Sally says.

They deliver 30 invitations personally and look after the refreshments.

They also pray for those who attend, many of whom were not previously churchgoers.

4All is a bridge. It has done a lot to help build community in the village.

Two years after studying the Bible together and growing in discipleship, the cell has undertaken the Alpha course again, this time running it for a new set of participants.

Young women with a life stage in common discovered church together, then went on to share their new life of faith with others.

Updates to, and learning points from, this story

Monday, 16 July, 2012

4All ran successfully for five years but as the children involved got older, things changed. Sally Gaze reports back on what has happened since.