Well-attended Brainstorming Meeting brings hope – but only if ideas are followed up!

Church Membership Isleworth Congregational Church Phil Andrews

by Phil Andrews

I was fearing the worst when our much-heralded Brainstorming Meeting on April 6th was about to commence. It had been called to discuss the future and indeed the very survival of our Church, and yet it appeared only five people had felt motivated to attend.

And yet, probably no more than fifteen minutes later, I was struggling to scribble down all the ideas as fast as they were coming, from a well-attended and enthusiastic if slightly tardy gathering. Our regulars were joined by some welcome faces from the past who for a variety of reasons have been sadly unable to worship with us of late, as well as brothers and sisters from Hosanna Church. In the end more people came along than are usually to be seen at Sunday morning services of late.

Translating ideas into action:

The session began with an appeal to those with ideas to consider how we might translate them into action, pointing out that they should not rely upon the usual few to do all the legwork because there is only so much that any of us can do. Instead everyone was invited to reflect upon the contribution that they themselves might make.

In the end there were far more suggestions than an article of this size could possibly do justice to. Some would maybe be difficult to put into practice, others would probably need to be parked until we are a little further “down the line” in terms of the Church’s development. What was apparent though was there seemed to be unanimity when it came to the need to change the way we do things – and drastically, and soon.

Sunday worship is our core business

None of this is to say that we should in any way alter the fundamentals of what we do as a Church. Sunday worship is and will always be our core business, our raison dêtre, and the traditions that we keep and our style of worship must presumably be why those who do attend our Church continue to do so. It’s the things we do around worship, rather than during – things that support and ultimately sustain us as a functioning Church – which need to be looked at.

This having been said, there were a few suggestions involving the conduct of services themselves which calls for some recognition of the harsh realities of our predicament. It was pointed out that our Sunday evening services had for some time been attracting only the “faithful few”, all of whom attend morning services anyway, and could maybe be dispensed with in order to free up time and energy for new initiatives which may prove to be more productive (as well as generating much-needed cost savings). An informal midweek service, held in the hall, was proffered as one possible option. Incorporating some online services/meetings into our portfolio of activities in order to include those physically unable to attend Church might be another.

Broadly speaking the ideas generated by the meeting can be subdivided into three categories – Strategy, Events and Publicity. On the following pages I have attempted to put some meat onto the bones of each.


  • Keep in touch with old / lapsed / inactive members – there is an existing community already around the Church which is bigger than our Sunday congregations
  • Reunions – a special event to which, with notice, old friends who have moved away might be tempted to come
  • Communicate with the outside world – we do not exist in a vacuum. There is a lot of goodwill out there for our Church. Let us reach out and embrace it
  • Get Wifi – a must if we’re serious about hiring out the hall to bring in an income, or about bringing in members of the wider community to attend Church events
  • Improve bookings system – let’s not lose enquirers because the Secretary is too busy at work to speak to them about their hall hire request
  • Extend some / all meetings to non-members – striking the right balance between preserving what is “special” about membership and keeping others interested
  • Clearer explanation / publicising of membership – everyone should be aware that the option of membership is there should they wish to make the commitment
  • Rotating services with other churches – many churches in other localities do this, especially for certain events
  • Create interactive online presence to maintain infirm / remote support – can we afford to lose touch with good people because they are unable to attend Church services? Should they not be given the opportunity to worship with us?
  • Discontinue evening service – see main article
  • Evangelism
  • Gospel sessions
  • Soup and food – providing help to those in need within the community we serve


  • Jumble sales
  • Bring and buy
  • Regular Saturday coffee mornings
  • Quizzes
  • Reading night / book night
  • Debate night
  • Chess / board games / card games night
  • Singing/community choir
  • Bring a hobby, share a hobby
  • Crochet / knitting
  • Playgroup
  • Prayer group
  • Make and mend


  • Newsletter – we already have this, is it as widely distributed as it could be?
  • Posters – something more eye-catching and locally relevant perhaps?
  • Leaflets – advertising and promoting specific events
  • Visual aids – inside and out
  • Large board / banner – let everybody know the Church is open
  • New community newsletter – a small, colourful A5 to be distributed bi-monthly to 1,000 local dwellings at no cost to the Church, creating a regular channel of communication with a modest but targetted audience


  • Suggestions board – facilitate feedback
  • Exit services via back door – to encourage participation in coffee mornings

Could you spare some time to help out with any of the above? Or do you have any ideas that haven’t been covered here? Please let us know. The more activity we generate, the more likely it is that our Church can reverse its present slow decline.

You can play a part in this process. Please do whatever you are able.

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