The Mother Church, as we have already seen, is a veritable storehouse for innovative ideas for turning the tide of sagging attendance.
Here is yet another brilliant proposal.
A new style of service – staged in churches decked out with balloons while guests sit at tables laid out for a baptism banquet – is among options being looked at by officials as part of a drive to make people feel more welcome.Hey, here's a novel suggestion: Try preaching the Gospel! You know, that stuff about eternal life in the kingdom of God for everyone who repents of their sins and trusts in Jesus Christ for salvation. It's a very appealing message, actually, and you can still make use of bread and wine.
The idea is one of the early results of a major “market research” project, backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and York, examining how the Church could redesign its christening services for the 21st Century.
Official figures show that the number of baptisms conducted in the Church of England is on the rise even though weekly congregations have been falling.
Rev Dr Sandra Millar, who runs the Church’s ongoing “Christenings Project”, said it was striking how many young parents still want to have their children baptised despite having little or no connection to the church themselves.
Vicars have also noticed that some unmarried couples appeared to view the christening almost as their answer to having a wedding, an opportunity to invite family and friends for a public ceremony followed by a party.
As a result some congregations have begun to adapt services to accommodate them, dressing up the doorways with balloons and offering church halls for christening parties.
But a handful have gone further, holding separate christening services combined with family parties.
At one church visited by Dr Millar the entire church had been laid out like a wedding reception with the baptism performed in the centre of the room in front the guests at tables.
Afterwards they were served champagne and a meal while the family cut a christening cake and received presents. The model is expected to form a centrepiece of new christening handbooks for vicars when the projected is completed.