Autumn might be the season of mist and mellow fruitfulness but in church and at college, it's a bit of a frantic time of new beginnings and initiatives.I'm really enjoying teaching New Testament Theology - though feel a good way beyond my comfort zone - and have a really good group to work with.
At church this week we reviewed how our home groups were going. An instant poll revealed that some 70 people attended the groups last week - more than I was expecting. It suggests that we are doing something right in a time when people are busy and have many calls on their time and commitments that they are keen to prioritise meeting together for study and mutual support.
We also began to talk about a fresh vision for home groups. This has been generated by my reading of Alan Roxburgh's recent book and by a small group of us exploring what it means to get back into our neighbourhoods as the focus of our activities as followers of Jesus. But it has mainly been stimulated by the fact that I am having a growing number of conversations with people who want to engage mid-week but aren't looking for a home group or church-based bible study and prayer activity. These people say they want to do something.
So we are looking at how some of our groups could feel their way to being more missional and neighbourhood focused. To this end, we have cleared the mid-week evening programme of everything but home groups (with the exception of a monthly Bible study that is attracting 25 people) to allow groups to explore what shape they might take on if they were more missional and neighbourhood based.
It will take some time but I was encouraged by the response both at the meeting and subsequently. People seem to be up for a challenge, recognising that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn't really work and seeing the need for the church to be more engaged with its community.So, let's hope that this autumn sows the seeds for future fruitfulness.