New Styles of Worshipping God

by Gerry Lynch last modified 28 Mar, 2017 11:49 AM

East Dorset hub to be launched in April will support pioneers of Breakfast Church

A new East Dorset-based ‘hub’ to be launched by the Diocese will support churches operating ‘Breakfast Church’ congregations. 

A network of hubs supporting practitioners of different types of Fresh Expressions has been set up around the Diocese as part of the Ministry for Mission (M4M) programme. These include a hub for Pioneer Ministers, four Messy Church hubs serving different areas, and a hub for ministry in new housing estates. There are more hubs in the pipeline to support people in developing imaginative forms of worship and evangelism. 

Breakfast Church is a model of worship where people sit café style around tables during the service, and are provided with a breakfast eaten at the table. It often particularly appeals to young families. 

The East Dorset Breakfast Church Hub will be based in Canford Magna Centre and mainly involves clergy and lay people in the East Dorset area, but is open to all. 

The launch event will take place at Canford Magna Centre (postcode BH21 3EF) on 24 April at 11 a.m 

The hub will be co-ordinated by Canon Chris Tebbutt, Rector of Canford Magna, who set up a Breakfast @9 congregation in Canford Magna Parish Church just over five years ago, which has gone strong ever since. 

FOR WEB Chris T with guitar at BC training Sept 2016.jpgChris said, “Breakfast @9 was never intended to be a typical family or all-age service for people who prefer informal worship. It is an outreach service, mainly aimed at people who are dechurched or unchurched. A lot of churches are really struggling with attracting people aged 25 to 35, and this is a group we connect with strongly at Breakfast @9. 

“We use connections we have developed through infant baptism to introduce people to the service. It’s inclusive of all sorts of people, grandparents, single people, folk with learning difficulties. Several of our regular worshippers have learning difficulties and they find the service and its informality very engaging.  

“One thing it is especially effective at is attracting the whole family – Dads as well as Mums.” 

Heather Andrew, the Diocese’s Ministry for Mission Resource Officer, agrees strongly with that view. 

“It is a particularly good model for pulling in whole families”, she says, “including men. It is more common nowadays that people don’t want to be separated from their children when they come to Church. With both parents often working so hard during the week, they don’t want to lose quality time with their children on Sundays.” 

It is often perceived that services like Breakfast Church are only really effective in Evangelical churches. However, East Dorset is home to at least one successful Breakfast Church in a parish with a Catholic tradition. 

Fr Michael Camp, Vicar of St Peter’s, Parkstone in Poole has been running Breakfast Worship once a month for several years now. He sees real benefits from the model, as well as a few challenges. 

“Breakfast Worship certainly engages with people who would find it difficult to access our main Sung Eucharist because they’re not used to it”, he comments, “It’s lighter, more entertaining, and the focus on children is something a lot of parents like. 

“One thing that has been vital for us is having excellent lay leaders to lead Breakfast Worship who have just the right touch in engaging with people. 

“Traditionally, the service was non-Eucharistic, but we wanted to ensure that people developed a sense of the Eucharist as the central act of Christian worship, so we now have one about three times a year. 

“We try to celebrate the Eucharist with the same style as other Breakfast Worship services – seating in cabaret style, very informal in tone, but with a thoughtful address. Then, all the tables are pushed back, people gather round a central table to celebrate the peace and the Eucharistic Prayer (typically H), and then people remain in that central circle to receive communion. 

“Breakfast Worship works as a gentle introduction to Christianity. There are a large group of people who don’t habitually come to church who engage with Breakfast Worship and therefore are in touch with the Gospel. 

“If I was going to be supportively critical I would say we haven’t yet resolved the conundrum around whether it is church or portal into church. It can be challenging to move people on and help them deepen their faith in this model.” 

Chris Tebbutt saw the sense of involvement people feel as a major strength of the model. 

“Everybody feels involved in Breakfast @9”, he notes, “not just through eating together, but because the children are involved in telling the bible story through Open the Book, and that draws the adults into the drama of Scripture.  

“We do a short craft session, of the Messy Church type, which tends to earth the message in a very practical way. Without stereotyping, a lot of men like to get involved in practical stuff. 

“The format allows lots of space for conversations within the time of the service, not just afterwards. People discuss what they are hearing and learning over food, over crafts, while things are changing.”

Heather Andrew says that the Diocese wants to offer more support to people operating, or thinking about operating, Breakfast Worship. 

“We want to offer support and bespoke training”, she says, “Also, if there is enough energy in the north of the Diocese, we will consider setting a second, Wiltshire-based, Breakfast Church hub. 

“Two of the key points flagged up by research M4M carried out last year is the vast majority of Fresh Expressions in our Diocese are all-age models, based around hospitality. Breakfast Church fulfils both those criteria, and it works!” 

Chris Tebbutt says all are welcome to the 24 April launch event.  

“We’ll be kicking off with worship”, he concludes, “then we’ll have a presentation on Breakfast @9, presentations and workshops both for those thinking about breakfast church worship and also to solve problems for those already doing them, and then a working lunch. 

“We want this event and the work of the Hub in the longer term to be about people sharing and learning from one another.” 

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