Friday, November 04, 2005

Cheadle Hulme Methodist Church

Location:

Station Road, Cheadle Hulme, about 200m Bramhall side of the station.

When visited:

29th May 2005, 10am

Type of Service

morning service, not communion.

First Impressions:

The building is essentially a 100ยบ degree sector of a circle, with tiered seating. Colourful banners at the front, ones round the back giving titles of Jesus with illustration. Looks pretty nice actually.

The service started at 10am with about 90 people and a very kid-friendly service complete with puppet dramatisation of the reading. At 10:30, it split into a "more traditional service", a "cafe church" and childrens' groups. Lots of older folk then arrived, so there were over 150 in the main service. Good mix of ages, including teens and young adults.

Welcome:

None. I was given a hymn book and notice sheet as I came in. Otherwise, no-one greeted me either beforehand or afterwards, though it seemed very friendly otherwise.

Music:

From 10-10:30, a band with drums, singers, etc. Great to sing some lively songs passionately and loudly. They had lots of potential, but sometimes needed to know what they were doing in advance... Most of the songs in the "main" service used the organ. Sadly, I noticed quite a few older men in the congregation refusing to sing the one modern song the band did during the main service, even though it was pretty sound and done fairly quietly. The teens and young adults seemed to sing the older hymns though.

Sermon:

Following a lectionary, while recognising it wasn't ideal. The sermon was on the end of Matthew 7. It was clearly from the passage and was definitely ok, but didn't even mention judgement, which is a big theme in the passage. It did, however, have challenges as to how our daily lives should be affected, which is always good. Piles of Good News Bibles were at the end of the benches.

Overall:

It feels as if there's quite a bit of (one-sided?) tension between some of the older members and some of the younger members, and it was unsettling that no-one greeted me really. There's a lot of good stuff going on here, but it seems quite a few difficulties as well. I'd probably fit in at least as much as I do anywhere else, but it might take a while.

Website:

www.chmc.org.uk

3 comments:

Graham Jones said...

Brings back memories.

John said...

The minister at Cheadle Hulme Methodist, David Martin, sent me some comments shortly after my visit. Here are extracts from it:

For a moment I thought you were a “mystery worshipper”, which really got me worried!!

Your comments are fair and my notes below are not meant as justification, just explanation.

We are in the middle of a transition phase from two morning services to one. We had an open meeting last Sunday as a time to reflect on 5 months of the trial.

This church has had the luxury over the years of not having to face the ‘worship discussion’, but for all kinds of reasons – not least the mission of the church – we have decided to bite the bullet.

The ‘evolving’ style of the service is the compromise that we have reached...

You may be interested to know that we have a church council on Monday that will agree the way forward – which, I suspect, will be to continue what we now have with some adaptations.

The band on that Sunday were a scratch group made up of friends of my daughter (who normally plays the kit) following her 18th birthday party the previous evening – that goes some way to explain why they weren’t too with it! It also explains the slightly higher number of teens that morning, most of whom would be around for evening service (which is always more contemporary).


My big concern – obviously – is the lack of greeting. Like every church I have ever come across CHMC thinks it is a welcoming church….. I will put your notes to the leadership team. Thanks.

As for the sermon – well, suffice it to say, I was conscious of the young people present who would not normally be at church and the fact that I had also been at the party!!!!

Thanks for your comments.

Anonymous said...

This is a common problem now in many churches. There are extremes - those that are welcoming really are welcoming and those that are not are not.

The same can be said for ministers. Clearly, there are several ministers who do more harm than good with their lack of people skills and should consider a change to something that does not involve talking to people! It's fine been good in the pulpit but it's worthless if there he/she has no people skills.

Seriously, being warm, friendly and welcoming is one of the very basics needed in any church.