15th January, 2006, 6:30pm
Station Road, Cheadle Hulme, about 200m Bramhall side of the station.
The front door was locked, but there were people who directed me around the back. Pretty welcoming, people spoke to me, asked me how I was, let me know what I was in for, etc and offered me free food and a cup of tea!
I had stumbled upon the monthly "Café Church" meeting in the evening. We sat, with our free buffet food, round tables in the church hall. The whole thing was very informal and quite pleasant. There were just over 30 people there, good range of ages, with a dozen or so under 20.
After a little time chatting with others on the same table as me, David the vicar introduced the theme of "Honesty" and pointed us to our "menus", which gave some questions and Bible verses on the theme. We then discussed these for probably around 30 mins, then David did an informal summing up (with questions) and we spent another 10-15 minutes in prayer, with candles and oil for those who wanted it. The "service" ended probably around 8pm, but obviously didn't have a sharp ending as we continued chatting round tables.
As there were several visitors on my table, we discussed the idea of "Café Church" a bit, and agreed that while the style was helpful, especially for making things very accessible, churches couldn't really survive without Bible teaching, and so it was good that there was variety in what went on in the evenings, sometimes with much more teaching emphasis to the service.
Very interesting, good way to think about how to apply an idea personally, and I'd be happy to go back or to try and run something like this in the future.