“Small church? Just the right size”

Tulli congregation began using Project Reconnect DVD’s regularly about 2010 when we found ourselves without a Minister of the Word or Lay Pastor and little prospect of having one in the foreseeable future. Tulli is part of the Lake Cargelligo Parish in the Riverina Presbytery with a faithful attendance of around 9 and if we are all there, about 14. The motto of Project Reconnect resonates with us – “Small church? Just the right size – reconnecting Christians with each other, with their faith stories, with their community”. Our congregation is friendly and inclusive with an older demographic with one young family and a couple of grandchildren.

The beauty of this method of worship is that the DVD’s are easy to manage for those of us who are IT challenged and with not a lot of finances to spend on more complicated methods of delivering a worship service. We simply have a TV and a DVD player. Project Reconnect has DVD’s available for each Sunday, however we have two services a month, the first with the DVD, and the second is a traditional service with communion. The various sections of each DVD are simple to navigate.

There is a varied selection of hymns in the music section, sung by a choir with accompaniment of organ or piano, but when a different hymn is desired the choice can mostly be found on a variety of CD’s. As soon as I am brave enough to master the mysteries of downloading music from the internet, the choice will be endless!!

All The children in the congregation, be they eight or eighty find that the “All Age Message”, previously known as “Kid’s Korner” interesting, enlightening and memorable. Obviously the producers of Project Reconnect understand the relevance of children’s presentations for all ages. There are also four questions in a separate section that relate to the message which are useful as discussion starters.

The DVD comes with an A4 sheet which identifies the focus reading and provides a brief commentary on the other Lectionary readings. It also identifies the duration of the Messages. On the reverse side is the list of hymns and an introduction to the speaker.
All that remains to be done is to read the Bible readings and prepare some prayers with help from many online sources. In saying that I don’t mean that we stick rigidly to a set service. The bones are there and we can cut and paste, rearrange, add and subtract. Each service ends with a “cuppa” which is a great time of sharing and discussion.

To be honest, my involvement was by default. Our congregation held a meeting to discuss the way forward, whether we would fold or have a go at doing our own services. It was during the Sacraments course that I learned something that has kept me going, especially when I’m feeling very inadequate. I learned that when I do a service, God speaks to those He wants to speak to and I am always amazed to discover how many times during a service that something, even the choice of a hymn, has more relevance than originally thought.

Recently we have changed the method of receiving Communion. We now gather in a semi-circle around the Communion table and pass the elements to one another with the appropriate words. This works well with our small numbers and we have found it to be meaningful when we serve each other.

Understandably Project Reconnect speakers vary in their style of presentation which can be interesting and refreshing. Occasionally we may be presented with a message which may seem city-centric or that does not resonate with us, challenging our beliefs and interpretations. These are the times when we need to ask ourselves, what was said that we question and how do we respond.