This is an initiative taken by the Spiritual Nurture Team at Winfield United Church and supported by Church Council to encourage participation of young families in the Church. This initiative is supported by a grant from ProVision Fund.
Eat, Play, Love Family Sundays and Saturdays
Over the past 4 years Winfield United has hosted family get-togethers once per month on a Saturday evening which we named Eat, Play, Love. It started as a form of outreach to support families within the congregation, creating a space where people from all income levels could come together to share a home cooked meal, practice gratitude, spend quality time with one another, be creative, and form lasting friendships.
Despite the fact that we currently have a really great Family and Youth coordinator at our church and previously had a Minister who worked really hard to create good rapport with the children – telling them stories, and getting to know them personally – over time, families came and went and the number of families bringing their children and seniors bringing their grandchildren to Sunday services on a weekly basis has dwindled. It was noted, however, that many young families would regularly attend a monthly family evening on Saturday, but not weekly Sunday services. These attendees were not recorded in the table on page 7 which shows our statistics from the last five years.
Several years ago, a Spiritual Nurture Team was formed at Winfield United – separate from the Worship Team – in order to begin to explore the spiritual understanding of a younger demographic. Some of our questions were: Can we find a way to welcome folks who have a limited church background, or who are disenfranchised from the church they were raised in, or who have never entered a church in their lives? Can we find a way to share what we value about our Christian faith in a way that’s accessible for them too? How might we welcome and include them? What might make them stay if they ever came to Winfield United?
Cynthia Bourgeault in her book “Wisdom Jesus” says that “praxis” means the path, the actual practice you follow to bring about the result that you’re yearning for. She teaches that there are different routes to get to the same spiritual destination.
Since the fall of 2018 we have worked very hard to create a compelling program for Eat Play Love Saturdays and have promoted it effectively through Social Media. At a previous Saturday evening Eat Play Love (EPL) held on January 19, 2019 there were 30 adults and 29 children plus 11 volunteers. At the most recent event February 9th, 2019, 25 adults (including helpers) and 29 children attended. Most of these families do not attend regular Sunday morning services but regularly attend Eat Play Love Saturdays. We wish to build on this momentum.
We believe that the future of Winfield United lies in our ability to attract young families in their 20s, 30s and 40s who were not raised in the church (or other religious institutions) or who have stopped attending for one reason or another.
We believe that the “praxis" of the Spirit is different for this group and that the rituals, traditions, language, hymns, and format of a regular Sunday morning service feel foreign.
We believe Winfield United must form a relationship with this demographic to build the new “praxis” – rituals, traditions, language, hymns, to lead us into the future.
We have faith that our deep Christian values – rooted in gratitude, embodiment of Spirit, acceptance of diversity, living authentically, charity and volunteerism, and seeing the Spirit of God in all things – will inspire this group.
We believe that a topic of concern for many families is the future environmental health of our planet. Teaching ways to protect our environment and behave in life giving ways both to each other and our planet is of paramount importance.
Our aim is to teach the life and way of Jesus, the Bible, and all Christian Wisdom in a way that resonates and makes sense in a hyper-connected, science aware, mostly “un-churched” society.
Create the new “praxis” – rituals, traditions, language, hymns which resonate with this demographic.
Create a place for children, teens, parents, and grandparents to spend much needed quality time together.
Create a community which learns ways it can protect and look after our planet and each other (human and other-than-human).
Build relationships with existing scientific and ecological groups where our attendees can learn how to live in Life sustaining ways.
These services will be very different than our regular services. Everyone is welcome and we believe everyone will benefit from coming together for these gatherings that will be oriented to people in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s and to people with families.
We’re very excited about the success and future potential of Eat, Play, Love. Clearly, there is value in the fellowship people are finding at our church.