It’s Sunday morning, and the congregation is spread out all over the church.
Some are learning about God by role-playing a Bible story, some by listening to a speaker, and some are deep in prayer.
In a moment, the worship band will strike up and some worshippers will wave flags at the front, while others will fetch coffee and nibble on croissants as the service continues.
This is Church Alive at St Mary’s Church, Alverstoke, which happens every Sunday from 10.45am.
Our relaxed, family-friendly service allows people to learn in different styles.
We created the service because we know that not everyone wants to learn about God by listening to a sermon.
Some of us prefer something more visual, something more active, or something more meditative.
Hopefully, we cater for all tastes. We started it a year ago, and we’ve seen plenty of people coming along who might not have been to church before.
We have about 35 children and 90 adults joining us each week – not bad for a service that only started a year ago.
It’s amazing how many parents say they would love to come to church, but they worry about the behaviour of their children.
Well, adults and children can make as much noise as they like in this service – and join in as much as they can.
Because it starts at 10.45am, straight after our weekly Parish Eucharist, we have to spring into action as soon as that service has finished. We offer coffee and pastries to worshippers from both services, we set up guitars and drums, and whatever props or art and craft materials we need to illustrate that day’s theme.
Then we sing some lively, modern songs, have some simple prayers and split into our different groups to learn more about God.
I used to do something similar in my previous church, St Mary’s, Warsash, so I knew it could work.
But I’ve been really pleased that so many people have found this style of worship helpful.
We do still do the more formal services and I’m delighted that others find that style helpful as well.
But I do believe that offering a mixture of worship styles is the way forward. n St Mary’s Church is at Green Road, Alverstoke PO12 2ET. Sunday services are at 9.15am, parish eucharist is 10.45am, church alive is 6.30pm. Call (023) 9258 0551, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit stmarysalverstoke.org.uk.