Problems with a heating system tend to get some people very hot and bothered, while others are simply left cold. Sometimes knowing where to start or what options are available can be a tricky business. The sheer volume of industry jargon involved in most heating applications is enough to get anyone’s temperature rising.
So, in an attempt to provide clarity and insight, the DAC has issued a guidance note tackling the hot topic of church heating. It can be found here. In it you will find a wealth of information about the different types of heating system, and the various processes involved in their installation. Pretty cool, right?
If you’re struggling with your church heating, there are a few basic points you should consider before throwing the boiler on the scrap heap.
Maintenance is good for your heating bills
A well maintained church has better thermal properties than one which is poorly maintained. Think of your church as an overcoat protecting you from the weather: if it’s completely saturated with water, and full of holes, you’ll feel cold wearing it. If the overcoat is dry and in good repair you’ll stay snug. So, make sure that the walls of your church are kept dry by clearing your gutters, and that the slipped slates or loose panes of glass are fixed to stop unnecessary air and heat exchange.
The way you use the building can impact on the effectiveness of your heating. How many entrances are in use on a Sunday morning? Will your welcome team stand with the door open? If you’re having trouble with the heating, you may want to reduce the number of doors in use or propped open regularly. If you have events during the week, is it possible to ensure they follow each other or occur on consecutive days? This will avoid the need to reheat the building from cold each time. All this may seem obvious, but when viewed as a whole it’s easy for these little matters to become big drains on your church heating.
Historic churches have received complaints about drafts and poor heating for centuries. However, our ancestors were better at dealing with the cold when it came to wearing better clothes. Wrapping up warm when staying inside may seem unusual in modern London, but that doesn’t mean your heating system is ineffective if your parish church fails to resemble Westfield shopping centre. Good clothing including thick-soled shoes and a hat reduces personal heat loss significantly.
When last we spoke we were discussing what we should be doing in response to the survery of children who attend our churches that we carried out as part of the planning for Capital Vision 2020. When we asked children what was good and bad about church two words came up again and again; in the positive column ‘biscuits’ won the day but the most used negative word was ‘boring’. In fact, boring was used more than any other word in the whole survey!
An easy response to this is to think that children need to be protected from the dullness of church and whisked away into their own groups to be entertained and educated in age appropriate ways. However I’m not convinced that’s the answer so in this half of the piece we look at what the opposite to this boredom in church might be. [Read more...]
Easter somehow seems like a good time to face this, and it’s something that most of us who work with children are already aware of but still let’s say it and name our issue; most children who go to our churches think it’s boring. In fact when we carried out a survey looking for the views of children who go to churches in our Diocese boring was the word that was used the most, just for the record biscuits came second and was the most used positive word!
So am I about to write a blog where I advance a theory as to how many biscuits a child must consume to in order to compensate them for how boring church is? Could we imagine that two biscuits would compensate for a botched all-age talk whereas a bucket of chocolate biscuits would be required for continued readings from the book of Lamentations? This of course assumes that any amount of biscuits could compensate us for having to listen to Lamentations. However, the opposite of being bored is not eating biscuits and the problem of bored children won’t go away with if that’s our solution.
So what is the opposite to boring? This week I’m going to suggest some things that it isn’t and next time we’ll look at what it is.
The opposite to boring isn’t entertainment.
One of my great bug-bears in the world of children’s ministry is how the initiatives that are seen as ‘flagship’ programs are trying to solve the boredom problem with entertainment and fun. However, by doing that they are generating a group of young Christians who are passive consumers of church and who are expect everything to fit to their needs.
The opposite of boring isn’t separate services.
Children need to be part of a wider worshiping community where they get to worship and share life with adults. They need to be surrounded by role models who can show them what faith looks like by their actions and to see what it means to be an adult Christian. They need to share in the rituals of this community and find their own sense of belonging to this wider group. Running an entirely separate program may hide children from the boring bits of church but it also teaches them that church is something that is boring and not for them.
The opposite of boring isn’t pace.
Bored children will misbehave and so one solution to this is to ensure that our programs rattle along without a gap for any potential problems to occur, problem solved. Well yes but; where is the space for a child to think, pray, reflect, find God in stillness or just take a break from the busyness of life?
Maundy Thursday Eucharist, 10.30am, 28th March with Renewal of Ordination Vows and the Blessing of Oils
I found myself on Monday, Commonwealth Day, standing in the falling snow at the Memorial Gates on Constitution Hill. It was a simple ceremony which remembered the five million men and women from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Africa and the Caribbean who served in the forces of the Crown in the two World Wars.
It was unnecessary to say too much to those gathered there in the cold, but I recalled how 70 years ago in 1943 the uncle after whom I am named was killed on active service with 1st battalion 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles. He was 22 and died with a number of his Gurkha comrades in one of the battles of the Italian campaign.
It is a deep human truth that many people over the millennia have sacrificed their existence, not for some abstract idea however noble, but for their comrades or for their families. The words of Jesus echo through the centuries of courage and sacrificial living and dying: “greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
He came from His blest throne
Salvation to bestow
But men made strange, and none
The longed-for Christ would know:
But oh, my Friend,
My Friend indeed,
Who at my need
His life did spend.
So once again we enter into the yearly rehearsal of our Lord’s passion and respond in offering our lives in his service.
It is always moving to see so many clergy and Readers in the Cathedral on Maundy Thursday supported by such an impressive body of lay Christians. It is a day when we can rejoice in the diversity that God has given us and as clergy, renew our ordination vows, pray for the people we serve and bless the oils used in our ministry.
My brother bishops and I hope you will join us. All are welcome: clergy and people together rejoicing in the love of God revealed to us in Christ Jesus who laid down his life for his friends.
Practical Arrangements for Clergy and Licensed Ministers
Time: all robing in the Chapel of St Faith in the Crypt by 10.15 am at the latest. Enter by northwest crypt door – congregation only through West doors.
Robing: cassock, surplice, and if it is your tradition, white stole for clergy, scarf for Readers and Lay Ministers.
Oil Distribution: collect vials from the Crypt after the Eucharist – please wash and return empty containers from last year and leave them in the receptacles in the Crypt.
Deputies: a parish or chaplaincy representative may collect oils on behalf of the priest. Oils are available from the Virgers throughout the year should you require further supplies.
Coffee will be served in the Nelson Chamber after divesting.
Did you know that there are Church of England churches all over the country using Girls Brigade to reach out to the girls and young women in their area?
We recently met with Sally Claydon who is the new London Development Worker for The Girls’ Brigade, a mission organisation working with children and young women in the UK and around the world.
Recognising the excellent work going on in communities, the government recently asked GB to start new groups in inner city areas including Hackney, Haringey, Tower Hamlets, Newham and Redbridge in London. Significant funding to cover start-up costs is currently available for these boroughs.
“Girls’ Brigade has been part of my life since I was eight years old, and as a group leader myself I have seen girls’ lives transformed and enriched as they’ve heard about Jesus.”
GB is an excellent tool for churches to use to reach out to their community. 80% of GB members are from families who do not attend church. They are experiencing Jesus, learning life skills, enjoying challenges and opportunities, all through Girls’ Brigade. Many churches are using this contact to welcome new families into the congregation.
GB is committed to remaining relational and relevant to the communities that it serves, drawing on its 120 years of experience in ministering to children and young people. Its resources are fresh, exciting and easy to use. If you would like to find out more about Girls’ Brigade Sally can be contacted on 07436 802242 or by email: sally.claydon (Email: sally.claydon [at] girlsbrigadeew.org.uk).
London Catalyst and the Church Urban Fund have released details about the Health & Belief fund for 2013. This annual grant is intended to support faith-based community projects in tackling poverty and health inequalities in London.
The grant is open to social action groups, voluntary and community organisations based in London with an annual income of less than £150,000.
- Projects to be funded need to demonstrate:
- A significant link with a faith group
- Plans to work with an appropriate expert health agency
- Tackling the effects of poverty and addressing health inequalities
- A new approach to a situation or a thoughtful development in response to ongoing needed
Grants are up to £10,000 for one year for projects beginning in 2013.
Applications should be sent by Friday 31 May 2013. You will find the details and form here (pdf).
To assist applicants a Briefing and Advice seminar will be held on 25 March. At this event you can hear from previous grant recipients and the two funders. Places are limited. For more details and to book a place go to healthandbelief2013.eventbrite.com.
Be honest – which of these has happened at your church?
- Parents dragging screaming toddlers from the sanctuary.
- Children told to stop “bothering” the grown-ups when they are asking a question or making a comment about what’s happening.
- Parents coming to church a bit late and sitting at the back, where their children can’t see anything.
- Parents and children getting the stink-eye from other worshipers.
- Children told off for touching things in church.
Even in churches that have Sunday School for much of the service, these can be a problem – before and after Sunday School, during All-Age Eucharists, over the summer break, and so on.
The problem is neatly summed up by Gretchen Wolff Pritchard, who writes, “In many churches, there seems to be an unexamined assumption that worship is for grownups and the children are there only because there’s nowhere else to put them – that they are, basically, accidental and unwelcome guests at an adult event. People then become annoyed at children for ‘interrupting’ something that is “for ME,” not for all of us. Parents who are trying to be considerate of others will admonish the child for ‘bothering people’ but not intervene in ways that actually help the child join the worship.”
It doesn’t have to be this way. Yes, a toddler will occasionally throw a screaming tantrum at the quietest part of the service. That’s inevitable, and it’s important that churches have a place where children can be taken when this happens. But there are ways, with parents’ help, to eliminate some of these problems entirely, and minimize the rest.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of solutions – that would take at least an entire book. But here are some ideas to get you started on helping children and parents worship together. These ideas enhance children’s ability to engage with the service, which in turn cuts down on disruptive behaviour – most of which is due to simple boredom.
One idea is to have a children’s area in the church. Our “Pray and Play” area at St. George’s has been a lifesaver. It is situated within sight of the altar, and contains spiritually imaginative toys that connect both to the Christian story and to Christian worship. Young children who are starting to fuss sitting still in a pew can come to the Pray and Play area, where they will be free to move and play, but still connected to the experience of worship and to the symbols of the Christian faith. All you need to get started is a rug or quilt, some baskets, and some toys – a Noah’s Ark, a Nativity set, a shepherd and sheep set, a toy church (Playmobil makes one), and some books. You can also have a small child-size altar with a wooden cross, an unbreakable goblet and plate, and, if you like, candles or an icon or fake flowers. You can then add to your Pray and Play area as funds and ideas become available.
You can also help children engage with worship by teaching parents to sit where their children can see, and that it’s okay to whisper to them in church. Carolyn Carter, who writes the “Worshiping With Children” blog, has some fantastic advice on whispering.
“Whispering is good,” she writes, “because it connects children learning to worship with their adults who know how to worship. Parents can no more worship “beside” their children than they can eat “beside” their children. Instead they must worship and eat “with” their children coaching them along the way. During childhood both are team sports and whispering is how the coaches and players communicate in the sanctuary.”
Carter then goes on to describe different types of whispers, including: calling attention to something that is coming up, connecting to something at home, suggestions about things to listen out for, and so on. The full blog post makes a great handout to parents, and can be found here.
Many churches provide resources for parents and children in the pews. SPCK’s book Pray, Sing, Worship is a good guide for literate children, and can be included in a bag with some paper and markers so children can draw. You could also present children with a page showing pictures of different items in your church, and they can see which ones they can spot from their pew. You can also have a sheet with different phrases from the liturgy in a square table, and children cross them off when they hear them – like bingo. Younger children can have toys, like a small shepherd and sheep set, or finger puppets of Mary and Joseph (available from Hope Education). You can also make Liturgy Boxes for parents to bring into the pews with them, or make flags with pictures that show different things we do in worship (pray, sing, listen, shake hands, etc.) and children can wave them at the appropriate times.
None of this is easy. Parents are busy and it’s not always easy to get them to adapt to the use of new resources. Many worshipers are set in their ways and will never see children in anything more than a “seen but not heard” light. But with time and patience, these ideas can make a difference in doing as Jesus said and letting the children come to him.
Last week I took a trip out to Essex with Marlon Nelson to visit a club set up by a church in Thurrock that gives a cooked meal to children eligible for free school meals during the holidays.Which is a time when these children often miss out on their one hot meal of the day. The group is one of many Lunch clubs that are being run by churches all over the country. You can find out more on their website.
I went to see it as it was something that it is easy to imagine being very effective here in London as the proportion of primary school aged children claiming free school meals in London 7% above the national average at 22% with inner London boroughs coming in at 33%. I thought I would go and see one in operation to get a feel for how they function and how much work is involved in their set up and running.
Thurrock Lunch Club, which is held in a local school’s dining room, has the children there for about an hour and half with a few craft activities available as the children arrive at about 11.30. I mainly used the pre-lunch time to make a Playdough spider, it was going really rather well before being squashed by a child when my back was turned! Food was then served at about quarter past twelve with nine children (they had averaged higher through the week) sitting down to eat with the leaders. We had stew with jacket potatoes and jelly with fruit salad for pudding and there was a wonderful sense of community around the tables as everyone tucked in. The children then helped clear up and left at about 1.15. They clearly appreciated the club and behaved really well throughout.
Being there also gave me a chance to spend some time in the kitchen chopping veg with one of the leaders and getting a feel for what the practicalities of running the club were. The first and obvious cost was the food production which was around £2.50 a head, you could do this for less but they felt that that was what they needed to spend to enable them to provide the children with a good meal. This was cooked in the school kitchens, which helped them overcome some of the red tape associated with preparing food for public consumption, on the morning of the club by one of the leaders who had a food hygiene certificate. Four leaders staffed it but the recruitment and retention of these was very difficult, especially for the summer run when they covered four of the six weeks. One of the leaders was a mum of some of the children who came to the club and joined the team despite not being part of the church.
The club had also found the school to be incredibly welcoming with the hall and kitchen provided for free and letter being sent out each term to all those claiming free school meals.
Overall Lunch is one of those things that when you hear about it you just think ‘what a good idea’ and nothing I saw on my visit changed my mind about that. It is a fantastic way for a church to serve those in need in the local community. It also creates an opportunity to meet children and families that you wouldn’t normally meet.
It’s good to be back after the operation, no really, and there’s nothing like having a hip replacement and becoming a grandfather in the same year to make you realise that life is moving on. While I was lying on my bed, recovering at home, there were moments when I began to reflect on 45 years of church related community development work, 38 of those as an ordained person.
From the vantage point of working right across the diocese to encourage community ministry and embed community development values, I have often been struck by a discrepancy between the two vocations I have followed – that the clergy often seem to go on forever; as R S Thomas puts it; ‘Venerable men, their black cloth a little dusty, a little green with holy mildew…’, whereas elderly community workers are much more difficult to spot; altogether a much rarer, shorter lived species, suddenly vanishing in their late 50’s!
How you adapt to life’s changes is a very personal, sensitive subject, which can also be very stressful, but at its best should be a prayerful reflection on where I am and what I can still contribute in this role, a reflection on the gifts I have, the energy that remains and the sensitivity to know when it’s time to move on and share that wisdom in other ways.
Change brings its challenges at any stage of life, but as we get older there is a risk that we become less open to new possibilities, more set in our ways, perhaps remaining in post for our own security rather than making way for someone with the right vision and energy to take the parish or project forward for the next five or ten years.
So let me share three things that arrived in the same recent mailing.
1. A flyer advertising the Student Christian Movement ‘Seeds of Liberation’ conference. A short piece introduced Bruce Kent, who was the Roman Catholic parish priest in Somers Town Euston in the 60’s, when I cut my community development teeth there. The flyer introduced him as ‘a former catholic priest and chaplain who has spent years campaigning for human rights, peace and nuclear disarmament. He will be sharing his experience and passing on the batten to a new generation’.
2. A notice from Church House Publishing promoting a new book; ‘Moving on in Ministry’ – ‘At some point, all in ordained ministry will go through changes and times of transition….this new volume offers a theological companion for all clergy in transition, from the beginnings of ministry to retirement. What does it mean to listen to God at times of change? Does the concept of career fit with a sense of vocation? What can we learn from the secular world about managing change? How can ministers stay the course and finish strong?’
3. A home grown, diocesan and excellent resource called PSALM, which was developed by my predecessor, Ann Morisy, almost 10 years ago. If you haven’t experienced one of their courses have a look at their website; http:/www.psalm.org.uk ‘The PSALM strap line is taking age and spirituality seriously. We take ageing and spirituality seriously because there is growing evidence that faith is a helpful tool as we negotiate our 3rd and 4th ages. Studies show that prayer and attending church (yes!) are strongly linked with a positive experience of growing old. By providing opportunities for us to draw on the resources of our faith-and to discover new ones, we equip ourselves to respond to this new map of life’.
The Youth Development Project is embarking on an exciting new piece of intergenerational work with St Pauls Church in North Marylebone. We will be working to build positive relationships between older and younger people that live in Church Street Estate and Lisson Street Estate. The project will bring these two groups together to assist them in working towards a celebration led and planned by the participants.
YDPDL is doing this with the expertise and assistance of The Childrens Society’s Greenwich Intergenerational Project. The project has had great success running intergenerational work on Greenwich estates.
This is the first time we have done this work with a Church, an ideal place for intergen work. The Church is a great example of how older and young people can work together to create a loving community. However it still suffers from misunderstandings between the generations.
Sadly it is often the case that young people think that older people don’t like them, or assume that they want to cause trouble. At the same time older people worry that they won’t be listened to or young people will find them boring.
“Now I understand older people more. I’m more considerate towards them – they’re not different, they’ve the same issues as us”.
Young person, Glyndon Estate, Greenwich
Intergen work brings the two groups together and encourages them to think about what they can learn from other generations. We work with each group separately to help them start thinking about the other generation, their lives and experiences. The groups then come together and to explore their commonalities and share skills.
One of the encouraging results is that different generations discover what they have in common. In Greenwich older people realised that many young people share their concerns of community safety and that not all young people hang around causing trouble.
I am excited to see what the different generations will learn from each other in Marylebone. The project will run for six months but I hope it will build new and lasting relationships between different generations.
Perhaps your Church or community would like to embark on some intergen work? Get some older and younger people together and try this activity. Or if you’d like to explore this idea further get in touch.