Have you been looking around lately and wondering who all the new faces are?

Each year in January we submit various figures to the Diocese of Bristol so that they can see what’s going on in each church and compare year on year. Is it growing? Shrinking? Is the demographic changing? While the figures don’t tell you everything, they do still provide a useful window into the life of the church. As J John says, “We count people, because people count.”

Elissa, our administrator, slaves away unseen on this document, supported by the leadership team and the wardens. (Ever noticed a warden talking to themselves during the first songs in a service? They are (probably!) counting heads…)

But you might want to know a bit more about it! So many people pour so much love and time and resources and prayer into the life of Christ Church, its community and its mission. You might want to hear some of the results as we are seeing an increase in numbers.

Total worshipping community: 605 (2018: 582)

This is made up of:

109 Children (2018 128)

119 Young people (80)

377 adults (2018: 374)

(Age 18 -69: 263) (2018: 282)

(Age 70+: 114) (2018: 92)

These numbers are in some cases approximate so apologies if not everything ties in perfectly. They give a good idea of trends. They include those in the Church Directory, those who attend Messy Church, Youth Groups, home and nursing home/ sheltered accommodation communions, Open Church and Thursday communion. Anyone who considers themselves part of Christ Church and who worships here or with us in another setting. (And we try not to count anyone twice!)

Newcomers in 2019:

98 people joined the community and 52 left. (2018: 87 joined and 16 left.) (Approx as it’s hard to measure exactly with our young people’s groups, and also the Messy Church community can be transient depending on age, parental work patterns and children’s clubs.)

So here is a bit more detail:

Sunday and Thursday church: 80 newcomers (59 adults 17 children 4 young people) The majority of these are already settled and coming frequently. (Compared to 2018 : 23 17 adults 3 teens 3 children) A large cohort of Messy Church families who were with us at the start of 2019 left in the summer, creating a high figure of leavers. Whereas the total leaving Sunday and Thursday congregations in 2019 through moving, death, moving church etc was 12.

We can add to this a stream of new young people coming to Ignite and a good flow of new people at Open Church as people invite friends, plus the new families that began to worship at Messy Church, all adding up to our totals.

How come there is room to move in church on a Sunday morning then?!

Surely our services should be rammed full and standing room only with these kind of numbers! We have 3 different services on a Sunday, plus Thursday communion. Some people attend Open Church or Messy Church or Ignite but not Sundays so you wouldn’t see them on a Sunday. Others are unable to come to church but receive communion at home or in a group at a nursing home or sheltered accommodation.

And of course not everyone comes to church every week. Imagine how amazing it would be if everyone gathered together in one place at the same time!

Let’s celebrate the variety of our growing community. To find out more about flourishing growth and life, why not chat to Helen and Belinda about our children’s work; Diane and Gary about our youth work; Paul about Alpha… hearing the stories is even better than seeing the numbers.

How are we welcoming these lovely people?

We all play our part, firstly by making people feel welcome when they come to a service or activity. We have a great team of welcomers, but we all make a difference if we move up or give someone our seat; if we say hello and shake hands, if we turn to a new person and introduce ourselves; if we invite them to have coffee with us after the service; if we invite them to fill out a welcome form; if we help them with whatever they might need such as loos, baby change station, children’s groups; large print copy of the words etc.

Welcome leading to integration and belonging

From those vital first impressions it’s also important how we make people feel part of things as they continue to come. Provided we can get in touch with people, we invite them to a newcomers tea which we hold termly (if you’d like to be a host to prepare and serve tea -let Anita know!); ask if they would like a visit from one of the leadership team; connect them with our youth and children’s team if appropriate. But any one of us can invite someone for a coffee/ help them get hold of our newsletter/ show them how to find our facebook page/ invite them to a church social/ find out their names and pray for them. Some of you are in the position to host a newcomer for a meal in your home: this is a wonderful way to form and grow relationships so please speak to Anita or Jo or one of the team if you’re interested in doing this.

At the start of 2020 there is so much to give thanks for: we don’t know who will God will bring to us but we do know how He calls us to make them feel at home!