The ’pop-up’ café run by 'Multiply' minister Matt Woodcock at St Barnabas, York, – “basically a trestle table, a kettle and packet of Hob Nobs” according to Matt – is just one of a growing number of new initiatives around the Diocese to meet with those in the 20s to 40s age group.
Other initiatives include a group which started in the local pub.
Matt explains: “Our 20s-40s group started life in the upper room of the Leeman Pub after Christmas. We called it ‘The Upper Room’ for obvious reasons. The gathering included games, videos and discussion round a weekly spiritual theme … In June, I took 12 of The Upper Room group to France for three days for a summer retreat. It was an amazing time. Loads of fun but spiritually profound. It led to a fruitful Start Course and now some of the group seem to be at church more than I am!”
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, licensed Matt to the specialist ministry last July and he was tasked with building a new worshipping community with a focus on those in their 20s, 30s and 40s in the parishes of St Barnabas, Leeman Road and St Paul’s, Holgate, in York.
“Our area has been chosen as one of the 20s-40s locations, because of the new ‘Teardrop’ development which will soon begin to take shape between the two parishes,” explained Matt. “It will see an influx of about 5,000 people. I’m expected to prepare the ground for that and get ready to go in … The prayer is a big one: To grow a new worshipping community of about 100 people within five years.”
Meanwhile, the Upper Room community continues to expand and is now meeting on Monday and Wednesday evenings.
“Monday nights we do Jesus big time in our front room - reading more about him in the Gospels, encountering him in worship, and praying we’ll be more like him during the week. We make plenty of space to eat, drink and laugh, too. Wednesday nights are all about creating community, making new friends and building relationships among 20s-40s. I’m discovering that loneliness is a big problem. People want to make new friends. My prayer is that out of what we do on Wednesdays, the group makes a friend in Jesus, too. We did volleyball and the pub quiz over summer. Activities this term include ten pin bowling and film nights.
“I like to think we’re creating a series of stepping stones that draws people closer to Christ,” says Matt.
Pictured is Upper Room regular Al Chambers, who runs a mixed martial arts gym, his partner Bryony and baby Edith. “Al and his family plugged in to our 20s to 40s work through the Upper Room and he later asked me to baptise Edith,’ explains Matt. “Some of Al’s gym clients have also now started coming along and I’m mentoring him to become one of the leaders on a Monday night. He keeps challenging me to get in the ring but I like my nose just the way it is!”