Finding your tables – unlocking the Holy Spirit

Finding your tables – unlocking the Holy Spirit.

The key to growth and acceptance of Intergenerational Ministry for SmbtS (St Mary by the Sea) was round tables. These tables unlocked for us what God was doing in our midst. They unlocked the Holy Spirit; they enabled us to respond to what the Holy Spirit was doin in our midst.

So find your tables. What is the thing that will unlock the growth of the movement of the Holy Spirit through Intergenerational Worship for you? For BATCH it was breakfast; for SMbtS it was tables.

In our first week of intergenerational worship, people wouldn’t leave their tables at the end of worship. They had struck up conversations they had never had before, and food and drinks were left to go cold as people talked.


We gather in intergenerational groups around round tables. Our round tables are huge. We can seat 8 people comfortably around them, 10 at a push. We could have gone with smaller cheaper tables, but knew that to have true intergenerational conversations and interactions we needed a big group size. In our context a size of 6 could be just one family; a size of 8 would never be just one family, it would have to be mixed.


Our model for Intergenerational Worship was BATCH church (Breakfast at the Coronation Hall). We wanted to follow their example; to have breakfast to draw us together. Their minister said that he didn’t think Intergenerational Ministry could be done without breakfast. We couldn’t do breakfast though, it was a step too far for us. We would like to, and will at some stage in our growth, just not now. My learning, is that breakfast isn’t necessary, what is necessary is the intentionally drawing people together into intergenerational groups. Breakfast does that for BATCH; tables does that for SMbtS. Food is critical for connections; we will have to do food at some stage to get to the next level of growth; 2020 is probably the year for this for us. It would be my hope that breakfast would join together our 8am traditional communion service and our 10am intergenerational service.


So how did we get to tables? Three of us were meeting together, planning and praying, and talking about what shape Intergenerational Worship should take. There was a sense welling up within us that this way (intergenerational worship) was the way we should go. It was a risk. How would it be received? We would trial it. What shape should the trial take? I had a real sense that this was the way for us. But we had never walked it before. So, do we try for a week or two? Or do we try for a year or two? How much do we invest into this? How much of our selves? How much of our parish finances? Could our ministry survive a failure? Maybe we should just dip our toes in and see how it goes. But it came through time and again, this is it. We were all in. We would trial for 6 weeks, the 4 Sundays before Christmas and the two after. Then while the worship space was being painted we would take a two week break, and carry on with the trial after that. We were all in; this was it. An order was placed for almost $4,000 worth of tables. There was no turning back. Our tables symbolised the change in direction for us.


The previous minister Trevor had fought the good fight. He saw the ministry opportunities that would be possible and open up if we had chairs rather than pews. It was in some respects a hard fought battle. And in other respects was quite easy; people were ready and willing to make the change. But with change comes grief, and we shifted from pews to chairs, it created waves in the faith community and wider community. The Holy Spirit calls; will we respond.


Can Intergenerational Worship be done without round tables? Yes; if you have an intentional way of drawing/cajoling/forcing the generations together. BATCH use food for this; SMbtS use tables. What will be your tables? What will unlock what the Holy Spirit wants to do with you?

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