St Mark’s Church in the Parish of Badshot Lea and Hale has grown by over 40% in the last year and the new people are mainly families with Primary School aged children. The ethos of St Mark’s is that every member is equal – in particular the children are fully included in the service and all the activities of the church are open to all on an equal footing.
Until recently there had been a rota for all the jobs – sidesperson, server, intercessions, reader, coffee making and so on. However, it tended to be only the more established members of the congregation who could commit to the rota – families preferred to remain flexible, and in particular most of the jobs were inappropriate to give to children.
So the congregation of St Mark’s are trying something new. They have made lots of cards with various jobs on them, for example ‘Light the Candles’, ‘Take the Collection’, ‘Tidy up after the Service’, ‘Server’, ‘Reader’, ‘Intercessor’, ‘Make the Coffees’, many of the jobs can be done by children. Then each Sunday there is ‘Host’ who is one of the established members (who can commit to a Sunday) and they bring the biscuits, open the church and put out the box with the jobs in. As people come in they help themselves to a card, if they wish to.
The Revd Lesley Crawley, who is a priest in the Parish said, “Getting rid of the rota has been brilliant – it has made the church even more inclusive and even zanier. I never know who is going to step up to do the reading or help me by serving at the altar. It definitely wouldn’t suit a place where the vicar needs to be in control! But it works for a church like St Mark’s where people invite their friends by saying, ‘Seriously, I bet our church is nothing like any other church you’ve been to!’ I would encourage every church to try it for their All-age services.”