REV ANDREW GOY: We saw a need for more reflective worship
WHEN my wife Hannah and I went through the experience of miscarriage we realised that some of the more lively songs we sing at church weren't quite right for us at the time.
Other friends had experienced infertility and felt similarly.
It is something that many people go through, but something that isn’t often talked about in church.
After talking to others who were suffering, we saw there was a need for something less celebratory and more reflective to help us engage with God authentically.
That’s why we decided to create a new alternative worship experience which we called Wilderness.
We ran our first proper sessions in September, and we’re doing it again in November.
Visitors walk into a room with atmospheric lighting, ambient music and a variety of prayer stations.
Thought-provoking images are projected on to screens, and worshippers can use all their senses to engage with God at their own pace.
Anyone can wander in during any of the four different sessions – Sunday night, Monday morning, Monday afternoon and Monday evening – to unwind and relax with God for as long as they like.
There are also three other spaces within the church – coffee and chat in the Hub, prayer ministry in a separate room, and a chance to pray with a group of people in another room.
The idea of Wilderness is that it is a space where people can find God at their own pace.
No one is going to preach at them, and they can stay here for anything from 15 minutes to two hours.
The Bible is full of stories of the wilderness, from Israel’s wanderings, to the 40 days Jesus spent there.
It can be a place where God feels distant, but also a time of spiritual preparation.
People might wonder why we promote something that allows participants to do their own thing, with no input from us.
Our belief is that if they ask, God will be there with them.
And we’ll be around if they want to talk about it.
The next Wilderness sessions will take place on the evening of November 27 at 6.30pm to 8.30pm.
The next sessions are the following day, from 10am until midday, then from 2pm to 4pm and from 6.30pm until 8.30pm.
For more information, go to cogs.org.uk.
Rev Andrew Goy is the curate of Church of the Good Shepherd, in Crookhorn.