Nine months on from my recruitment as a church warden together with the local vet, we haven't been able to increase the congregation. Indeed, three of the six regulars have said standards have fallen and no longer come.
As a business, St Andrew's Church is broke. The collection has to go entirely on church maintenance and the ever-increasing demands of the diocese. Local people know this, and it's one reason they don't come to church. We do, of course, get a few weddings, funerals and christenings. The interesting thing is the surprise when they find a church that is not decked out like the Ritz. The big change is that we don't give to charity any more. There was a time when church collections would always be linked to a charity.
This isn't right. We have decided to start again and have the one monthly service linked to a local charity. We will be asking the community what charities they would like to propose and if someone involved would like to speak about their work at the service. A relevant bible reading, a couple of well-liked hymns and a prayer reflecting on the work of the nominated charity will take us to coffee and cakes when people - perhaps even more than three if we do this right - will be able to learn more about the charity and, we hope, give generously in its support.
I am delighted that the local primary school will be leading with its annual Christingle service, the collection for which goes to the Children's Society.
Charles Kenyon lives near Market Rasen, firstname.lastname@example.org