Cook@Chapel - update Apr13

Monday, 15 April, 2013

Katharine Crowsley tells how a 'mixing bowl of prayer' has helped to develop Cook@Chapel.

Over the past four years Cook@Chapel has grown and evolved as a fresh expression of church. The group of young people meets once a week to cook together, pray together and share a meal. By sharing food, hospitality and worship these young people can develop and deepen their faith - and build a small missional community.

Our prayer life of Cook@Chapel has developed very quickly from a grace said at the start of the shared meal to a time of prayer that takes place every week and forms a central focus to our meeting. The young people like to use a kitchen mixing bowl that we place written prayers into; we then pass the bowl around, stirring the prayers and reading them out in turn.

Cook@Chapel - panPrayers are for all sorts of issues, from international concerns to the local, for family, friends and each other. This is called the 'Mixing Bowl of Prayer' and we realised the young people wanted to use this way of praying more frequently when the mixing bowl was brought out for prayers week after week. It has formed a prayer liturgy for the community which works and gives a good example of how the prayer life of the group has evolved naturally.

Over the past 18 months, the numbers of people attending has steadily increased as the turnover rate has decreased. This means that the group of young people attending has gradually stabilised. Before this period, people would join the group for a few months, or maybe a year, and then move on - whereas now they stay. As a result, the community has become more cohesive as faith has grown and worship has developed.

This change has been a positive one which, in turn, has raised many questions, including, 'how do we cope with the increase in numbers?' and 'how do we effectively disciple those who are new to the Christian faith, especially if Cook@Chapel is their only contact with church?'

Cook@Chapel - servingRecruiting new volunteers to help when we meet on Friday nights is something that works with the increasing numbers in the short term but the longer-term aim is to encourage young leaders from within Cook@Chapel itself. This will ultimately be more sustainable for Cook@Chapel's future and means that the young people will be involved in leading and guiding the development of Cook@Chapel.

Cook@Chapel is made up of some people with quite a deep Christian faith and others relatively new to faith. Providing opportunities for discipleship needs to occur in both an informal and formal way. Future developments will include the more structured option of deepening and developing faith through a taught course, whilst informal discipling will continue through the conversations that occur whilst preparing food or sitting around the table. Most importantly however is the discipleship that happens while journeying alongside people, developing our faith as we go.

Cook@Chapel was recently been involved in fundraising for an education project in Ghana and we cooked a safari supper to raise some money. The young people prepared a traditional meal of spicy chicken, rice and peas and the whole event was very successful - especially as it gave those at Cook@Chapel a chance to showcase their cookery skills to a wider 'audience'.

Cook@Chapel - menuAs Cook@Chapel moves towards the start of its fifth year, other plans include a possible allotment where we can grow our own vegetables to cook for our fellowship meal. This is very much in the planning stage at present but would allow us to become more sustainable and to think more about where our food comes from. Love and care for God's creation has been an important part of Cook@Chapel's philosophy right from the start, so the allotment development would encourage stewardship of the earth's resources and the opportunity to work together as a community.

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Comments

Thank you for sharing this. I like the simplicity of the 'liturgy' with the mixing bowl of prayer. You have created a space where young people want to be and you are blurring the edges of church so that discipled Christians are mixing with those on the borders of faith.

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