Pioneer minister Will Mansell explains how the GRACE Network in Stroud is encouraging new and courageous ways of worshipping, in different places, which connect with more people.
“Jesus told us that he was “anointed to bring good news to the poor, sent to proclaim release to the captives, provide recovery of sight to the blind and proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour” and yet much of our worship is set in a context away from the realities of the poor and those held captive. The Grace Network CIC is seeking to change this by leading worship in a space where the issues of poverty cannot be avoided. Grace Network’s site hosts a foodbank, furniture recycling centre, children’s clothing project (Kids’ Stuff) and a pop up restaurant (The Long Table) designed to support those who are food poor.
“Grace Network recently invited the churches of the Brimscombe Benefice to come and worship with us. We shared communion, had two interactive sermons and debated the question of “has the church lost its saltiness?” over a brunch. The Long Table and Kids’ Stuff were the context of our sermons, people were told about how those expressions shared the Good News of Jesus with people in our community, and listeners were invited to get involved themselves.
“The team at Grace Network already spend time in worship together and we will be inviting more people on site to join us and are aiming to ensure the question: how does worship help us engage with the poor?
“The goal is to ensure that every worshipper has space and time to reflect on what they are called to do to bring the good news of Jesus to the poor and to capture that sense that unless the church is being salt and light in our communities it isn’t really worshipping at all.”