I spent yesterday with Maurice Nightingale of Aylsham Community Church – what a day seeing what God is doing through Newfrontiers in North Norfolk.
There were four elements of the day for me
1) Meeting some of the guys doing the stuff
2) Getting to grips with community involvement by using buildings effectively
3) Learning better ways of setting up the legal side of Churches to be able to do good community work.
4) Passing on some of what we have learnt about making Sunday visitors stick.
Effective buildings Until recently I haven’t beenthat enthusiastic about buildings, but seeing what can be done with abuilding is changing my mind! Aylsham have a converted bus depot that has a 400 seater venue, advice shop, offices and a coffee bar area outfront. What they do in the community with it is amazing.
We visited Sheringham and the New Wine Church to have lunch in theiramazing community facility – "Yesu". They don’t meet there on Sundays,but what they have achieved in serving the community is incredible. We visited another potential building – 450m2 in the middle of anindustrial estate. The vision there would be to have a Sunday venue, agood quality meeting room for hire and coffee bar come cafe. That couldget most of the men who work on the industrial estate through the doorof the Church every month! Warehouses seem pretty cheap in Norfolk too!
Legal Stuff I found my eyes being opened to creative ways to use church buildings that help pay forthem and help you eventually reach segments of the community that wouldn’t darken the doors normally. Inspiring stuff. Chatting to thevarious guys I realised that doing the right legal work now – in other words spending a bit of money now rather than doing the cheap and easy trust deed route will allow the Church plant to apply and get fundingfor community projects later on much easier.
Making Visitors StickMaurice asked me to talk about what we have learnt about growing Sunday attendance to 100 through welcome and making sure Sundays visitorsstick. I felt like I learned about new ways of getting people to a place where they might visit on a Sunday, but then was able to share about making sure they stick when they do. That’s about creating a welcoming culture where members talk to visitors rather than huddle in cliques, good signs, good website, friendly people on the door and an invite or three back for lunch!
Food, Glorious Food Then rounding of the day in typical Norfolk Newfrontiers fashion meant an outstanding slow roasted lamb shank at The Black Boys Hotel in Aylsham. Well worth a visit for outstanding food, good beer and no smoke!!!