This Time Tomorrow
This is one of the ways to help members of the congregation to live out their live out their faith naturally and openly, in all aspects of their daily lives is to briefly interview them in a Sunday service asking three simple questions:
- What will you be doing this time tomorrow?
- What are the challenges you will be facing?
- In what ways can we all pray for you?
“It certainly creates a buzz during our church service.” says William Cardale. He is not referring here to a mobile phone vibrating during a Sunday service or the (surprising?!) nest of bees that have taken up residence in the church roof. This buzz is congregation members talking together, sharing what their lives will look like over the coming week.
William is part of Bradfield St George, one church in our Diocese who has been using ‘This Time Tomorrow’ to encourage people to live out their faith Monday to Saturday - not just on Sundays! Although, this might seem like a daunting task, we have been learning that it doesn’t have to be and small shifts in what we are already doing can make a big difference in enabling faith to blossom in all areas of life. Introducing simple initiatives like This Time Tomorrow can make all the difference.
So how does it work? By simply encouraging conversations about where people will be this time tomorrow during a service. When people share challenges, opportunities and prayer needs of their lives outside of church, faith transcends the boundaries we can unintentionally put on it and becomes something that fills every aspect of life.
We’ve also seen that This Time Tomorrow can help deepen people’s relationships with one another. Sandie Barton says; “I think the best thing about doing This Time Tomorrow in this way is that the shyer and more reticent members of the congregation have been able to be drawn in, and in one or two cases have shared on a much deeper level than has ever happened before.”
This Time Tomorrow can happen in so many ways. Below we hear three simple ideas you can try in your church service.
- Interviewing someone up the front and praying for them - “Last week, we interviewed David about his IT company and his life at work. We heard how he recently helped a lady who had been widowed. Her husband was the one who did everything on the computer and so when he died, she didn’t know any of the passwords and was struggling to use it… Now, thanks to David’s help, she is skyping her grandchildren! I loved hearing how David expresses his faith through his work, and it was a great to have an insight into his life outside of church.” The Revd Chris Hood, Old Felixstowe
- Writing names on a card - “We asked everyone to write their name on a card, collected them in and randomly gave them out again. Everyone then had to go and look for the person on their card, find out what they were doing this time tomorrow and promise to pray for them. That worked well as an introduction to the concept and was fun!” The Revd Canon Sandie Barton, St Mary the Virgin, Barton Mills
- Sharing in pairs - “We had a regular slot as part of our intercessions during which we invited people to tell the person next to them what they will be doing this time tomorrow. After they had shared, we asked if anyone would like us to pray for them. Usually, a few people would put their hands up, and we prayed for them. It worked well and led to good conversations and also to us, as a church, being aware of what was going on for people in their daily lives.” The Revd Jutta Brueck, St Thomas, Ipswich
This Time Tomorrow is not just another thing to squeeze into a Sunday service. By sharing what happens in people’s lives throughout the week, we are helping faith to be integrated more deeply. We are also valuing people for aspects of their lives which might otherwise go unnoticed and by doing so enabling deeper engagement, stronger friendships and real joy amongst our congregations.
Sandie says; “Now, if anyone leading the service doesn’t include this time of prayer, we would be stopped from ending the service by someone calling out "We haven't had our time of prayer!"
This Time Tomorrow has certainly gone down well in the churches we’ve heard from. Why not give it a try in yours? By Liz Jefferson.
At St Matthews Church Ipswich this practice has been undertaken for many years. Recently I have heard three inspiring stories of congregation members:
- A teenage young person shared how she sought to live out her faith in her secondary school where there were very few Christians or at least very few that would openly admit to having a Christian faith.
- A policeman asked for prayer to be a reassuring visible presence on the streets of Ipswich following an upsurge in gang related activity including a fatal stabbing.
- A Headteacher of a nursery and infant school spoke passionately about the struggle she would be facing to make ends meet partly due to the inequality of finance for Suffolk children.
Three very different stories told with different degrees of confidence but all seeking to express their faith Monday to Saturday and not just on Sunday.
No wonder in the booklet Setting God’s people free for Monday to Saturday the comment is made that ‘This time tomorrow’ has proved to be the single most important action a leader can take to remind us that being a Christian is a way of life – not a Sunday-only club. The Revd Canon Dave Gardner
This time Tomorrow is part of ‘Setting God’s People Free...for Monday to Saturday’ a national programme of change to enable Christian people to live out their faith naturally and openly, in all aspects of their daily lives, from Monday to Saturday as well as on a Sunday. It looks outside Church structures to the roles that Christians play in communities and the wider society.
‘Setting God’s People Free’ reminds us that being a Christian is a way of life – not a Sunday-only club or a historical buildings preservation society! A Christian is an Ambassador for Christ. Current Lead Team for St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocese:
Bishop Martin Seeley, Ruth Dennigan (Discipleship and Ministry Development Officer), Canon Michael Wilde (Diocesan Lay Chair), Canon Dave Gardner (Director of Mission and Ministry), Elaine Hawes (Lay Elder, PCC Chair Benhall St Mary’s)
For further information please visit www.churchofengland.org/SGPF