Musicademy ran a training day recently at St Anselm’s Church in Stanmore, Middlesex. Not only were we totally blown away by the generosity and hospitality of their team, but we were impressed with what they had done with the somewhat traditional Anglican building. The rather large main worship space appeared to have different zones and was a far cry from the dusty pews you often find.
We chatted with the Vicar, Christine Robinson (who typically was serving huge china mugs of fresh coffee to our delegates) about the building and became even more intrigued. We asked Christine to tell us the vision behind their use of the space. Here is her article:
We are a gently charismatic, Anglican church in North West London.
We love children and young people: their enquiring minds and open spirits are a constant source of encouragement to us and we welcome them into the heart of the congregation, taking their gifts and talents seriously.
However, like many churches, the decline in attendance amongst our young people has caused us deep concern.
We put it to prayer, which prompted us to look at our Sunday School structure and we soon began to realise that sending people out to age appropriate groups during the service was not only failing to attract younger worshippers, but the demoralising effect of poor and irregular attendance on our volunteers meant that we were also beginning to lose the ones we already had. What had worked splendidly for previous generations of children and young people was not working now.
The press characterises today’s children and youth as “screenagers,” stereotyping them as stuck to their phones, jumping from link to link, and living on easily-digested soundbites. It’s true this generation uses computers and the Internet for many daily activities, but what is less celebrated is that one of the outcomes of access to social networking on a world-wide basis is a genuine and informed concern among our young people for the broken world they live in, and an earnest desire to be part of the solution. As a result, this generation understands, more clearly than any other generation, that the solution to the world’s problems is the transformation of culture. So, for us, the question was, “how can we show them that’s what following Jesus is about?”
We did some digging and discovered what’s capturing this generation’s attention is true community – real conversations with real people, real relationships between the generations. The Bible calls this koinonia. Knowing that integrity and authenticity are everything to this generation, again, the question was, “how can we show them that’s what following Jesus is about?”
So, at the prompting of the Holy Spirit, we decided that instead of sending children and young people out to separate groups, we would keep the whole church together and find a way for everyone to engage with the gospel. Now, instead of the traditional model of Sunday School, we have a time of musical worship, then Bible readings, followed by a seven-minute sermon, then we disperse to five different spaces in the church (not separate rooms but different spaces in the main church) each designed for a different kind of person.
This is what they look like: