Cold spinach and baked beans

08 March 2013

IT IS an odd recipe for bringing people to church, but it certainly seems to work at St Jude's, Southsea, in Portsmouth diocese, where attendance has rocketed by 45 per cent. Every two months, they hold a Funday Sunday, when the congregation invites friends to church for breakfast and children's games, followed by a "snappy family service".

The breakfast includes coffee and bacon sandwiches, and a chance to catch up with the Sunday papers. Children can have their faces painted, or their nails varnished, or they can play Wii games and table football. They then enjoy comedy sketches and messy games, such as eating cold spinach before standing in baked beans (pictured), followed by lively songs during a quickfire 45-minute presentation about some aspect of Christianity.

The usual 200-strong congregation can swell to 350 on these Funday Sundays, which are designed to appeal to those who do not usually come to church; but they have also increased the regular congregation at all the morning services by ten per cent.

Recent Fundays have included bringing a real sheep into church to illustrate the par- able of the Lost Sheep, dressing as Pompey football fans to show the commitment needed to follow Jesus, and the whole con- gregation's re-enacting the story of Jesus calming the storm. Regular worshippers are given cards to invite their friends and neighbours to these occasions, described as "church for those who don't do church".

The Vicar of St Jude's, the Revd Michael Duff, says: "This is part of the vision we had to open up what we do at St Jude's to those who wouldn't normally come. . . Each time, I see dozens of new faces, and we hear how much people have enjoyed their time with us. Some have chosen to join our regular services, our Alpha courses, or our midweek groups."

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