I spent much of last week pondering as it suddenly dawned on me that plan A might not work. When I arrived the hope was that there was going to me a community centre sometime in 2011. As we got to May, the local elections and a change of council meant the plans were put on hold. Then, there was still hope that they might start construction before Christmas. But now, here we are heading towards the back-end of 2012 and nothing has been started yet, architects drawings are still to be agreed.
So, I had been ambling along doing what we are doing with the thought that, when the community centre, always 12 months away, is completed we will start filling it with stuff – toddler groups, drop-ins, Messy Church and Sunday worship. This was in the future, always a year away.
But last week, it struck me that 18 months is a more likely timescale, and we can’t wait that long without a proper venue – not least because by then I would be three years into my five-year post.
What we are doing at the moment is good – the new-mums drop-in group is going and is slowly becoming established, the Bible study is established and has been augmented with children’s teaching in another room, relationships with the football blokes, book group and on the development are deepening too. Most exciting, men’s Curry and Questions is going to start next month with three men. These things all fit into the network vision, but the next stage has to begin.
As a core team, we need to start worshipping together which I plan to begin once a month. A wider family ministry needs to begin too, such as messy church (one or two people have been asking for something after our successful Christingle). We are also hoping to develop a regular meal, where the emphasis is on belonging and eating together rather than worship or teaching. These will need a venue that is flexible and larger than my front room! It was time to go away and think and pray.
Plan B is to find a venue.
The trouble is, every venue on the development has some drawbacks – that’s why I was holding out for the community centre which will offer a more usable community space with few constraints on the use. One may not appreciate too many children, another cannot be used in school hours or Sunday morning, and another is a bit too much like a bar (because it is a bar!). Two of these three places also probably won’t allow us to self-cater, which, if we are constantly buying catered food in, will get expensive (although I haven’t actually had the conversations yet). There is a community centre on a nearby development, but because it is not on our development, would change the focus of the ministry if we were to hold certain things there. I knew all that, and I needed to start looking past each venue’s deficiencies in order to make progress.
Although each venue in itself is flawed, a combination of these buildings might suffice, the only down-side being that, for the moment, we won’t have a single place of identification. The community centre on the nearby development will do fine for invitational events, like our recent Thanksgiving meal, but not for drop-ins. The school cannot be used on weekdays or Sunday mornings, but the rest of the weekend is free and they would allow us to cater. The other venue, a retirement village, might make a good location for our core team worship, and who knows whether other Christians might then come out of the woodwork!
Last week spurred me into action. I need to have some conversations, and then start planning.