TOAST! last Sunday afternoon. TOAST! is a worship event for under 8s and their families that’s been running for nearly 3 years (www.ehdchurch.co.uk)
In the week before and then again on Monday I was involved in various debates around who emerging church / Fresh Expressions etc. attracts and reaches out to – unchurched / dechurched / churched. Everyone has a different take on this.
I hate labels but with all the debates going on it made me think about how it relates to TOAST!.
What was clear on Sunday was that at TOAST! its a very mixed picture. Within family groups there’s a range of relationships to church. Many families have one parent either ‘over churched’ or ‘churched’ but very few have both in these categories. In most of these cases the other parent (where both are involved) is either de churched or unchurched.
There are a number of parents who had experience of church as a child themselves and are now returning to give their child something they valued when younger. No idea what label you put on them!! And there are those who have no connection to inherited church at all – unchurched – but through relationships with people in TOAST! or through connected groups this is their church.
And there are a number of – what I have ‘labelled’ – lately churched. Who are part of inherited church now but have only been so for very few years.
And then there is a range among the children themselves. For some TOAST! is their experience of church and nothing else. Some have TOAST! as their main ‘church’ but have some connections to inherited church and others have a foot firmly in both camps.
Confused!? I am – or maybe what I see is that there isn’t any point labelling. Because as the families come together to explore faith and spirituality together they find themselves on a fairly even playing field. And that is what we aim for. That we are an expression of church that can reach all ‘labels’ and give them equal access to what we offer.