One of my daughters surprised herself - and us all - one year by announcing that olives were now her favourite food. She wouldn’t touch them as a child. I remember one day discovering how marvellous the music of Elgar was though I had spent years not listening to it because I didn’t like it.

At the start of 2020 I want to encourage you all to try something this year that you may have decided you don’t like. Some in our churches might assume that I am occupied with training people for ministry and working with specific people on particular projects.

There is a good deal of that, of course, but it is not all by any means.

LikewiseIt is also a very important part of my responsibilities to encourage churches to arrange learning and fellowship times for themselves - as churches - and to provide opportunities for them to get together in this way. We call these kind of meetings Likewise days, because we look at matters that interest us all ‘likewise’. These days are for all church members and are hosted by CF churches. They are also an opportunity for churches to invite friends from other church traditions and this has been a wonderful part of the success of these days.

We have a lot of interactive time with much of the day spent sharing in small groups. There is also lunch and plenty of breaks for chatting

If you have decided that you probably wouldn’t like getting together in this way with others in your church, and perhaps some folk from other local churches - please think again. I have met so many people over the years who surprised themselves hugely by how much they got into days like these and therefore how much they got out of them!

If you think that spending a day getting into a subject with others sounds good but you fear that it will be a bit like medicine - good for you but tasting awful - then think of this as Mary Poppins’ medicine. It will taste delicious for everyone!

LikewiseIn 2019 we had several Likewise days in different parts of the country, all hosted by churches like yours. What subjects did we explore together? One explored New Religious Movements - why are people joining them, and how can we best respond as Christians? Another explored why Jesus used parables so much - are they really just simple stories for everyone to understand? What did Jesus say about this? Yet another was about worship and the Psalms - this was a day to reflect on all of life worship, especially for those times when life is really hard.

But we can explore whatever is on hearts and minds in your church. And please note: these days are for churches that don’t have ministers as well as those that do.

Do get in touch with us if you think you might have a taste for learning in fellowship after all.

Walter Riggans