Research – and imagination!

Sign outside a church in Belfast: you told us how your churches had kept sharing the hope of Christ during the pandemic. Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash

Thank you to all the CMS Advocates who found time to help us with our research about the churches you attend. We received 508 responses, a response rate of nearly 19%!

Your feedback is invaluable and will inform the way we approach churches, as well as giving us a better understanding of the impact of the pandemic on churches.

We wanted to share some of the imaginative ideas you shared as part of the research. What stood out was your churches’ concern for the vulnerable and isolated. People mentioned ways of connecting with the elderly, young people, homeless, vulnerable families and asylum seekers. And this was done in many and varied ways:

Online

In the last few months, churches have learnt to reach out online – through pre-recorded or Zoom services. But also by creating social opportunities – WhatsApp and Messenger groups – including online fundraising by selling jam, cakes and allotment fruit and veg. One church held online events such as desert island discs, and another set up a dedicated community email. Then there was the online Bible and exercise class!

Offline

For those offline, churches showed very real concern and more good ideas: buddy schemes; liturgy from around the world, services, sermons and printed study materials posted/delivered to people offline; and a dial-a-sermon phoneline. Other churches recorded DVDs or CDs of online services and delivered them to people who were not online.

Outdoors

There were lots of great ideas for meeting outdoors – including open air services, garden evensong, and outdoor picnics. Community cafes now met outdoors, became takeaways, or delivered cake to people who usually attend.  

Children’s activities

Online storytelling, emailed worksheets for children, online holiday clubs, kids’ craft suppliesthese are some of the ideas to keep children engaged!

Gifts

Then there were the gifts given to the elderly, to young people and families. Food parcels, teas and goody bags. Personal cards were sent to care home residents, and more gifts sent to encourage local businesses. One church ran a puzzle/book swap scheme for isolated people. Another church sent cards to people who usually attended messy church.

So much imagination making a transformational difference at a difficult time! Thank you so much for taking part in our research.

Can you help us further?

We’d love to give you another opportunity to answer a couple more questions which would really help us as we discern the future direction of CMS:

Please click on this link to our short two-question survey: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/cmsadvocatesurvey

Thank you!!!

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