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Workshop looks at starting new service

By Stuart Mann

People gather at St. Paul, Bloor Street, for the Bridge, a relaxed worship service that takes place at 9:30 a.m. on Sundays.

When you mention the words “plant a church,” people often think you mean buying a piece of land and building a new church. But there is another way to start a new Christian community, and it can happen right inside the walls of your church.

Throughout the diocese, churches are starting new worship services for people who are not coming to the traditional Sunday morning services. These new services take place at different times and days of the week, depending on the group of people they’re trying to attract.

“People realize there are other people in the community that they’re simply not reaching with their Sunday morning offerings,” says the Rev. Jenny Andison, the Archbishop’s Officer for Mission. “These are people who God is calling them to serve, so what should they do?”

On Oct. 27, the diocese is holding a day-long workshop, Reach New People, that will give parish leaders an opportunity to learn about the ups and downs of starting a new service from people in the diocese who have done it effectively.

Ms. Andison says the workshop will address the fears and concerns that clergy and lay leaders have about starting a new service. “How do you, as an incumbent, do it without doubling your workload and killing yourself?” she asks. “How do you encourage lay people to come alongside you? Is it right for you? Is it right for your parish? We’ll look at all these questions.”

She says there are a lot of churches in the diocese that can form new Christian communities in this way. “It’s probably the only form of church planting that the vast majority of our churches in the diocese can do. The average church is not going to have the resources to buy land and build a church for a new congregation. But there are a good number of parishes that are the right size and healthy enough to think about whether they’re being called to start another worship service for a different community.”

She says the new services usually reach people who are already attracted to Christian worship of some kind. They often have a church background and are open to coming back if the service meets their interests.

The workshop on Oct. 27 will be held at Trinity College, Toronto, and there will be a small fee to cover the cost of lunch and other expenses. Register online. For more information, contact Elizabeth McCaffrey, the Congregational Development Coordinator, at