Diocese of Lichfield try UDC resources

Written by George Fisher — In 2018 we launched an experiment with the Ugly Duckling Company materials in the Diocese of Lichfield. The materials are aimed at people who don’t attend church and they have been specifically created to enable churches to reach out into local communities with something that starts to develop relationships, but that is pre-Alpha material. 

We invited churches to attend an introductory session in November where they could take up to £100 of materials free on the understanding that they would ‘experiment’ with them and report back on how they were used by mid-2019. People connected to 24 churches in the diocese, attending various sessions.

Sharon Lanfear, the Director of UDC spoke at events involving over 40 representatives from 24 churches in the Diocese of Lichfield. Sharon spoke about the range of materials that help you to stimulate life-changing conversations with your friends, family, neighbours and community. There was a range of material available and churches took the following resources to use in the experiment, 8 Happiness Lab Starter Packs, 5 Resolve Starter Packs, 2 Puzzling Questions Starter Packs and 57 Table Talks all aimed at starting engaging conversations. 

The materials were trialled in a number of different settings including church or church hall being most popular but also homes, pubs, cafes and schools and with a range of people from the community as outlined below: 

Lichfield trial infographic.png

Although there were quite a few church members on various courses, which at first felt a little disappointing, it proved to be important. Church members attending felt more able to promote courses in the future as they had confidence in the materials. It also helped them to grow in confidence in talking about their faith, enabling them to develop a vocabulary, which is vital for sharing the gospel in everyday life. So, in some ways it is pre-evangelism training. 

Invitation to events was carried out both by word of mouth and through church publicity. This was often with existing church groups. However, there were instances of others attending through wider publicity. One church had been regularly carrying out outreach work in a pub and so were able to run it there due to the good relationships that had been built and so others joined in. Following are some comments and reflections about the different materials. 

Table Talk - is a conversational game that creates space for the big (and not-so-big) questions of life. It uses a format similar to other games, so it is quite accessible. It is not too chunky and there are a huge range of different categories. It is inductive and draws on experience. You can also tailor the cards to the audience. It is simple to use and an App can also display questions on a big screen. It helped church members to engage in conversations about God when answering even when the questions might not be overtly religious. 

Resolve - Resolve is a four-week course exploring what it means to enact positive change in your life. Those who used it found it easier to connect with family and found the exercises were good. 

The Happiness Lab - enables delegates to explore what psychologists, doctors and faith leaders say will make people happierA well-designed course that looks very professional. There was plenty of good input — both relevant and connected. It built community and led to ongoing conversations.

 Puzzling Questions - Puzzling Questions is for those whose worldview simply doesn’t include anything about the Christian faith. Unfortunately, there was no feedback on the 2 copies that were taken. 

Overall this was a worthwhile experiment and a good investment. The resources were used well and many will continue to be used for a considerable time to come. Not only did the material enable several churches to connect with those on the fringe, but also start conversations with new people. The course will help to build up relationships in the local communities and also introduce spiritual matters but have also enabled Christians who attended to become more articulate about their faith. 

We will continue to recommend these resources and look forward to the new format they are producing which will make them even more accessible. We are grateful to Sharon from UDC for joining us in this experiment, for all their input, and the way they serve churches in evangelism. Sharon also informed us about a new format Table Talk that is being produced, making it pocket-size, so it will be easier to carry round. The new range will also allow different formats to be produced more easily. 

George Fisher. Director of Mission, Diocese of Lichfield. May 2019. 

Paul Worthy