I think that I can cross one thing off my goal list that I wrote in Looking forward to 2015.
I have been to a Church in Telford for the last two weeks and think that it may be the one for me and Hannah, Nathaniel and Alex.
It is very different to our large church that we used to attend in Exeter that had many leaders, technology, children’s groups and many activities running during the week. The River Church in Telford is much smaller and very informal. In fact, I wanted to ask some questions before I went and messaged the Paster on Facebook as there is no office or administration team. He didn’t seem to mind chatting online to me at 10pm in the evening and made me feel that it would be worth coming once to see what I thought. To be honest, as it was so different, I wasn’t sure that I would like it.
My main concern was the lack of provisions for the children. When you have three small ones who can’t sit still and quiet, taking them to church is a worry, especially when you’re outnumbered 3 to 1. I had visions of me spending the whole time saying “shhhh” and “sit still” in cross whispers with a lot of tutting around me while feeling increasingly embarrassed. Amazingly, none of this happened.
There is a small children’s group that Hannah went to (for ages 4-7), while the younger ones stay in the service. I was feeling very nervous at this as Nathaniel struggles to sit on a chair for longer than two minutes. But, I had no reason to worry because Nathaniel loved it and I didn’t hear a peep from him due to a mat to the right-hand side of the front where he played with the toys that were there. Alex also enjoyed playing with the toys but would wander back to me to show me what he had found. I should add that it wasn’t just me that he would go to. There were a few times when I would notice he was no longer on the mat and he was busy giving toys to someone else in the congregation or sitting on their laps. He was clearly very at home.
I was actually very surprised that they weren’t up to mischief or being noisy. After all, they are small boys and the service is an hour and a half long. Yet they were really happy. If the children are happy then I can relax and enjoy it too.
There are only about 100 members and the two services that I have been to have had around 40 attending. As it is small, it is easy to get to know people and feel welcome. As I don’t know many in Telford yet, this is a major plus for me. In fact, I have already been to a woman’s meet up during the week. A very informal affair at the back of a pub where there are two for the children and we could sit and have a chat over a drink. My type of church get together!
Unusually, it is an afternoon service and doesn’t start until 3:30pm. The first week, I hadn’t taken this into account and so by the time we got home and then I had cooked dinner, tidied, bathed the kids and got them to bed, it was past their bedtime. Yesterday, I decided to bath them in the morning, cook dinner for lunchtime and get everything ready for school and work before going. It worked really well. We got home at 5:30pm, had sandwiches, wound down for a bit and the children were in bed by 6:45pm. I then had a relaxed and unstressed evening.
I can see myself being part of the church there. It is so friendly and supportive, yet not intrusive. There are a good range of ages and people there although overall, it is quite a young family orientated church. The children love going and I know that if they have a day when they are a bit noisy or unsettled, it won’t matter. In fact, I know that the other mums would give me a hand if I feel I don’t have enough.