PROSPECTS FOR THE FUTURE
The church's plan to implement Charting a New Course the formative report of our Mission Consultant
- Following the Charting a New Course(CNC) report by Revd Paul Snell, Synod Evangelism Enabler, attendance at Dawlish URC has increased by 17%; and offerings went up by 15% before a TRIO campaign in February 2008 (held as a result of CNC’s suggestion) which resulted in a further increase of 25%. An Emmaus group was started, a welcome team has been established, internal communications have been improved, Elders training has been established, a Day of Prayer has been held and a Bible study group has also been started.
- Charting a New Course provoked the congregation into discerning its vision for the future and drawing up specific proposals, beginning with the decision to transform the interior of the church building to create new spaces to meet the expectations of people in the 21st century.
- The key to the vision is the church’s unique position as the only church in the centre of the Dawlish shopping street. This demands a building which is open, attractive and welcoming with modern facilities for a variety of congregational, community and commercial uses.
- When the church building is open it provides the only place for prayer and quiet in the town. So the congregation intends to have an easily accessible Prayer Chapel open 8 am to 8 pm in which there will be a daily prayer service with a focus on intercession and prayers for healing. In addition, the church itself will be opened as the place for the town’s focus at times of national tragedy or celebration. Material for such eventualities is being prepared.
- The congregation plans to provide mid-week lunch time services/seminars with light lunch.
- A more flexible building will enable a more flexible style of worship with a variety of additional services, including engaging with contemporary spirituality.
- There will be an increasing number of weddings (and wedding receptions). The church will offer ‘affordable weddings’ and receptions to those who cannot afford commercial rates.
- The refurbished building will allow increased use by those already using the premises – eg Toddlers Group, Keep Fit, committee meetings, concerts, music rehearsals etc.
- The congregation will develop different and new uses for its refurbished premises with the aim of encouraging more people into the building. This includes daily coffee mornings (some leased to other organisations) some with themes; providing wet weather alternatives for holiday makers; and creating a computer suite in the gallery space for courses on basic computer skills and providing a telephone help line and internet access on request.
- The congregation intends to arrange and encourage others to arrange events such as Arts and Crafts Fairs and Concerts. These will have a significant financial benefit.
- The congregation intends to develop the building’s commercial potential (if necessary by employing a marketing expert) as a venue for conferences and executive meetings; commercial fairs (eg Antiques and Wedding Fairs); and Adult Education. Discussions are taking place with Social Services and Probation Service about its possible use of the premises; and with Teignmouth Film Society about a Christian Film Festival and other film showings.
- Having developed better internal communications, the congregation is publicising its spiritual life, current activities and future plans through an attractive web site and a quarterly full-colour glossy publication delivered free to around 2,100 homes. The congregation and its members’ participation in the life of the Dawlish community is being reported through the local press.
- The congregation has sought to ensure that “an evangelistic attitude needs to pervade every single activity” (CNC 9.9). Some more explicitly evangelistic ideas are being explored, including an Alpha course for older people and new forms of worship separate from the 10.30 service.
- The elders are working through a detailed programme with specific targets to be ready for the use of the church after its refurbishment. This includes elders training; an overhaul of the pastoral care arrangements; Away Days on a range of spiritual and practical topics suggested by Charting a New Course; visits to other churches in similar situations; learning about ministry to the elderly; and congregational consultations. This is all undergirded by prayer.
The congregation has employed a consultant to review the Business Plan and to develop a grant applications to the statutory authorities, the EU. Landfill etc.
The congregation has taken the initiative in forming a community trust with full community involvement to ensure that plans reflect and are framed by the needs of the community.