A resource from St Matthias Plymouth to help people jump on board the journey of belonging to a church
In September 2016, St Matthias Plymouth launched. Plymouth has a population of more than 250,000 people including more than 30,000 students. Yet only 1% attend an Anglican church.
Olly and Ali Ryder were invited to set up a city centre resource church in the heart of Plymouth to try and reverse some of these statistics. St Matthias is now averaging at more than 400 people every Sunday and people are coming to faith every week. More than 100 people came on their Autumn 2017 Alpha course and their Spring 2018 ‘Small Groups’ launched with more than 350 signups of people who want to do life together and grow in faith and friendship.
We caught up with Olly to hear about ‘Join the Adventure’, a tool which is helping move newcomers from being onlookers to finding their unique place in this church plant.
What is ‘Join the Adventure’?
‘Join the Adventure’ is a two-hour session that we run at St Matt’s to help new people get on board and continue their journey of faith.
Traditionally churches have been ‘Come and hear about us’, but we wanted to create a resource that helps people find out about themselves and develop their spiritual lives. So the session and booklet (a shorten version below) includes a DISC Personality Test and a Spiritual Gifts Assessment, as well as sections to share our story, values and the next steps in belonging to St Matt’s. There’s a section to check out our latest teams, from Facilities and Hosting to Recovery and Church Planting teams, as well as some guidelines about developing godly practices in our financial lives. Our goal at the end of ‘Join the Adventure’ is that everyone will be excited about being part of our church family and they’ll sign up to giving, being in a small group and serving on a team.
What’s the background to ‘Join the Adventure?’
We wanted to be intentional when someone comes through the door to our church on a Sunday. We visited Church of the Highlands in America, which has 40, 000 members and has a monthly ‘Growth Track.’ Their four sessions are ‘ Become a Member’, ‘Discover Your Design’, ‘Develop Your Leadership’, and ‘Join the Team’. We wanted to provide something similar and asked ourselves, “What would we like to happen on a Sunday at St Matt’s and what are we directing people to?”
And as well as being intentional, we wanted to keep it really simple at St Matt’s. We focus on four things: everyone having a personal journey with Jesus, coming to Sunday services, being part a small group and serving on our Dream Team. ‘Join the Adventure’ helps us to focus on new people and keep things clear, simple and intentional.
Any advice for someone looking to church plant?
Try and work out your intentional process for helping people onboard onto the life of your church. It took us a year to get to – the first year we just flung as much mud as possible to see what stuck! But now into our second year, we are starting to plan for growth strategically and put processes in place, like ‘Join the Adventure.’
One of the challenges is to make sure that your system or processes are serving your vision, not the other way round. It needs to be about individual people, making sure that everyone is cared for and pastored. We now have 400 people here on a Sunday and as the vicar I can’t care for that number of people. But I can put processes in place to ensure that everyone is pastored.
Another thing that has really helped is the process of Clarify – Evaluate – Get Better. Be clear about what you’re trying to do, measure how it went, and improve! We wanted to integrate people into the life of St Matt’s so we produced ‘Join the Adventure’. Now we’re evaluating it, and wondering if we put in too much content. We’re asking ourselves questions like ‘Have people joined small groups? Have they signed up to help on the Dream Team?’ So the review helps us to make changes and improve the session, and the whole cycle can start again. We’re far from getting it perfect, but we can be constantly honing our processes and looking at the next step.
To find out more about St Matt’s ‘Join the Adventure’ process, click here.
Discover more about Church of the Highlands’ Growth Track here.