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Revitalisation in Denaby Main: Looking to the future

Denaby Main

We’re hoping to grow Denaby together

When we met at the start of the academic year in September as a PCC, we talked about the desire to grow the church in terms of our numbers, but also in terms of our hunger for the Lord. Since then, we’ve been putting things in place to try and help that growth. We looked at Colossians 1:28 together and the idea that we proclaim Christ with the aim that people might become mature in him. We thought about how that would mean taking somebody from possibly having no knowledge of the Lord Jesus or a connection with church, to coming to know him and then moving right the way through to a mature Christian faith.

The Missional Pathways diagram was a big help in mapping out our plans

Using the diagram, we looked at the kind of steps any person would need to take in order for this to happen. The Diocese highlight essentially three movements:

1) A movement where people get connected with the church.

2) A movement where you go from being a relational friend to a Christian believer, the encountering Jesus aspect.

3) Growing from being a Christian believer to a believer mature in faith.

Throughout the year we’ve put things in place to help people make each of those three movements. We explored “what are we doing already?” and then prayerfully considered what we could do. We’re so grateful to God for the progress he has given.

Growing in our own maturity

As a church we focused first on our own growth and maturity. We realised that if we wanted to help other people to come to know Jesus, the first step was making sure we loved him and were following him ourselves.

On Sunday mornings, we had different ministers helping us out including from St Thomas Kilnhurst and Revd David Green, a retired minister who lives in Denaby. This was a massive help, but we wanted to make the Sundays feel more connected and coherent. To do that, we’ve introduced some new songs and decided to work through Mark’s gospel. We still have different preachers every week, but we’ve all been on a journey from the start of the year to Easter, following the Lord Jesus on his way to Jerusalem. The difference here has been remarkable. It’s amazing to see people enjoying church and more people coming along. After Easter Sunday one person said, “It felt like our church had been resurrected.”

There was also already a Thursday evening event where we would do some jobs in the church and eat together. That was wonderful, but we realised there was an opportunity to put a Bible study in there and to pray together. When we made these changes, we noticed the Lord really used it. It’s been a wonderful joy studying the scriptures, praying, and eating together. The Bible study started at around five people and it’s now around 15 most weeks. We’re especially grateful to God for how we’ve seen his Spirit work amongst us and to Revd David Green for helping to lead some of those studies.

Connecting with our Community

Encouraged by how God has used our initial desire to grow we then focused on how we connect with our community. There was much already happening here. We have a coffee morning every week on a Monday morning where we had 60 people or so coming on a regular basis. Once a half term we do a Pie and Peas Supper, which is very well attended. We realised that connecting was a strength in our church – especially around food and drink! That said, we wanted to make the most of these opportunities, so we did make some tweaks. We’ve tried to make our coffee morning slightly more multi-generational by adding a play mat and some toys. We’ve got grandparents bringing their little toddlers along and we’ve tried to use those coffee mornings as an opportunity to get to know people really well. For me personally, I’ve found it an amazing opportunity to get to know people in a genuine way.

Helping people encounter Jesus

One of the most helpful things we noticed from the missional pathway’s activity is we were short of opportunities for people to encounter Jesus for the first time. There was quite a big gap between somebody coming for Coffee Morning or Pie and Peas and attending a service regularly. So far, we’ve made a few changes here. We introduced a Christmas thought and carol singing at our coffee morning and a short Easter thought at our last Pie and Peas Supper which was well received. We’ve also started a men’s group called Fella-ship. It’s an opportunity for men in Denaby to make friends, share food, play pool, and hear something encouraging about the Christian faith. We’ve had a lot of fun and we’re hoping the Lord will continue to bring new people to the group.

In September, we’re hoping to start an all-age, after-school cafe-style service to help local families encounter Jesus. We’re really excited about trying to reach school age families and we’d love others to pray that the Lord would bless our efforts.

The Small Sparks Grant has been helpful in facilitating what we do

Throughout the year I’ve often sent John Marsh photos of events we’ve run with the phrase “sponsored by Small Sparks Grant”. In the church hall we were using old school tables that were bought 50 years ago, which were very heavy and not very attractive or flexible. They really limited what we could do with the space that the Lord has given us. The simple solution was to put in some folding tables which would look a bit cleaner, were easy to maintain and were lighter.

It meant we were able to apply for some money to change something physical in our building which has enabled us to do lots in terms of ministry opportunities. We do our coffee mornings around those tables and the room feels nicer and more welcoming.

In the future the tables will be used for our café church, and they already help at the ‘Fella-ship’ group where we turned some tables into a table tennis table and others were collapsed to make room for a pool table. Both groups are part of our encountering Jesus steps but are facilitated by the tables because we couldn’t have done that without them. There just wasn’t room.

I think the Small Sparks Grant was an opportunity for us as a church to remove one of the barriers to making progress and it was wonderful to be able to just say, “here’s how it fits with our Mission Action Plan.” We’ve been extremely grateful for that. Receiving support from the Diocese really encouraged us as a church. We felt that people were backing us as a church family, and it indicated something of God’s support and blessing on what we were seeking to do. 

We have hopes and prayers for the future, both in groups and individually

I think the Lights for Christ messaging in the Diocese is really helpful; we as a church want to be a growing light for the Lord Jesus here in Denaby Main. We want more and more people to have the opportunity to hear of everything that Jesus has done for us; the way he’s loved us and died to save us. We want everything we do to reach out with that hope and message. So as a church, I’d love us to be a growing light for the Lord Jesus.

To discuss this or the Small Sparks Grant, email John Marsh: