“They recognise authenticity, passion, life, grace, and positivity”
theBarn is a newish Baptist church in the rural village of Bidford. Around 45 young adults are engaged in Sunday church, and are part of a balanced overall age range across the congregation
theBarn is a newish Baptist church in the rural village of Bidford between Stratford and Evesham in the Heart of England Baptist Association. Formed around 15 years ago as Bidford-on-Avon Baptist Church, it changed its name when it moved into a building that used to house a soft play facility called Bungo’s Barn.
“We felt our original name was too much of a mouthful,” explains pastor Jamie Cox. “We’d been prophesised over before coming, and given a word about 'a barn and the harvest'; we’d also thought how the building is a shell, with the people the church, and a barn fitted that; for all these reasons theBarn has just stuck.”
Around 45 young adults are engaged in Sunday church at theBarn, and are part of a balanced overall age-range spread across the church. Just under half are the children of adults in the congregation. There was a good nucleus of 18-21 year olds when Jamie arrived 10 years ago. “We asked them what they wanted, thinking the answer would be pizzas and bowling nights out,” explains Jamie. “But the answer was fuel – full Bible studies, and that’s always been the case.”
Jamie explains there’s a balance between word and spirit: he preaches for 40 minutes (“it’s challenging, and word-based”), but there’s also a desire to be open to the Spirit, and there’s space for that.
The 18-30s in the church also appreciate home groups, he continues, “They’re not just interested in social activity, but really do want to press into things of God in home group. They’ve always been spiritually switched on.” The church has always had a 20somethings group, he adds, explaining that this age group tends to flock together, “so you have to cater provide something for them if they’re there, otherwise they’ll probably go to the city church that does.” The church seeks ways to put young people in positions of responsibility or leadership, and has in the past done some young leaders training and identification.
The young adults want a place where they can confidently bring their friends, he continues. In this respect it may help that the building in which the church meets is modern – it doesn’t have the iconography of a more traditional church, such as stained glass windows; but more of a “contemporary” and positive” feel.
Ultimately this age group is attracted to a "healthy" church. “They recognise authenticity, passion, life, grace, and "positivity,” says Jamie.
“But I suspect that some of the reasons church works for 18-30s will be similar to the older members. They are attracted to life, Word and Spirit.”
The church also runs three ‘Stay and Play’ sessions each week in the main church hall, and has begun to build relationships with numerous families in the ‘young adult’ bracket. Jamie says: “They seem to like the atmosphere, the warm welcome and the larger sense of community. From there they can feed into our Messy Church style events and, hopefully, in the fullness of time, into wider church life.”
This article appears in the Summer 2020 edition of Baptists Together magazine, which explores reaching and raising young adults
Images | theBarn