One of the best things about this job is meeting great people and I was glad to remind the people gathered at a school in Ely for a day on fresh Expressions and Children that the people who work with children in our churches are among the most gracious, generous, unpretentious, caring and heart-for-God members of our churches: not in it for the fame, money or glory but purely because of a love for God and a love for children. About 70 such people had gathered for the second annual day on Fresh Expressions, organized by Dave Male.
We threw open the whole question of ‘what is best for children?’ and thought about the way church has traditionally separated children from the rest of the church and sent them out. (In some cases, less than graciously. The children and leaders were encouraged to depart recently in one church, with the command, ‘Off you go.’) In many churches the feeling is that you can’t do ‘proper church’ when the children are present. We asked the question in Ely, is it possible to be ‘proper church’ if children aren’t present? Because of course Fresh Expressions have the chance to start again and leave behind bad habits.
We also had two sessions on Messy Church, and it was encouraging to hear stories of churches in Cambridgeshire who are already reaching people on the fringe through Messy Churches and others who are thinking of it.
The Barnabas books were devoured with enthusiasm and we all left with plenty to think about.