A different approach: Fellowship @ Grannies

Saturday, 1 November, 2008

This story illustrates the principles of a different approach to church in the Guide.

Methodists in a former mining town in Nottinghamshire held an Alpha course. When it ended, three quarters of the group - all previously unchurched - wanted to carry on. In 2002 they continued to meet fortnightly on Thursday evenings at a local teashop for coffee, cake, discussion based on material such as Nicky Gumbel's A Life Worth Living, prayer and worship.

When a new Alpha course was proposed, these descendants of the original supported the venture in ways suited to their gifts: praying in the Methodist chapel during Alpha evenings, serving food, or sitting at tables to aid discussion.

After four Alpha courses and their follow-up groups over two years, the final follow-up group developed into a new church in its own right.

Cell group principles: 'Welcome, Worship, Word and Witness'

Still meeting at the teashop - Grannie's - on Thursday evenings, it runs along the cell group principles of 'Welcome, Worship, Word and Witness'. A social time of coffee and cake is followed by modern worship songs and prayer, which is spontaneous and low-key, 'often conversational', says leader of Fellowship@Grannie's and local Methodist minister, Andy Fyall.

Bibles are provided so that everyone can follow the reading, page numbers being announced along with chapter and verse. A time of interactive study follows, with a strong emphasis on encouraging the 25 members to share their own experiences. Outside resources such as Missionary Church, Missionary Journeys by Steven Croft aid this process.

The new church is led by a team of eight. Four leaders come from within the original core team, including Andy and teashop owner, Louise Beaumont, who had a vision for using her business as a place of ministry. Each of the four is paired with a new leader from within the church, so that two people lead each Thursday evening, with members participating in music and readings.

The next time an Alpha course runs at Grannie's teashop, this new church will not only renew its earlier work of resourcing the Alpha meetings, but will also continue its own meetings, in recognition of the fact that Fellowship@Grannie's is, as Andy says, now a church 'in its own right'.

This is a learning point from: