Yorkshire North & East successfully launch podcast for non-Christian parents

“Don’t wake the baby!” is a new venture by Yorkshire North & East Methodist District. It is hosted by (and the creation of) Emma and Elliot Crippen, in partnership with The Kairos Movement. It is a digital “New Place for New People” (a fresh expression of church) to reach unaffiliated people and has received support and seed-funding from the district. It has also received exploratory funding to ‘enable exploratory work for digital pioneers’ from The Methodist Church (Connextion).

“Don’t wake the baby!” is a podcast that also has a visual crafting element on YouTube. It is aimed at millennial parents or those with preschool-age children. In each episode, Emma and Elliot chat about a parenting topic, share their experiences, and explore how parenting has changed since the 90s. It has a purposeful “made at home” and authentic feel and has a strong focus on humour, laughter and having fun. The podcast encourages engagement through YouTube and Instagram, and has a steadily growing community of parents on Facebook.

The aim of the podcast is to reach and build relationships with young parents outside the church in a “grace space” that is relevant to their lives. Looking and feeling more like the secular content they are used to, rather than looking like ‘church’ or typical ‘online worship’. Offering connection and mutual support to isolated parents. Parenting can be lonely, and many don’t have time to meet up physically, so this provides an opportunity to connect and support one another.

Here’s how the podcast describes itself:
Unwind on sleepless nights to a wholesome mix of parenting, humour, and crafting. A fun, honest and unscripted conversation between Emma and Elliot on non-judgemental parenting and millennial-based topics, as we relax in the blanket fort with a craft or creative activity.

Find out more, or listen to the podcast, here: www.kairosmovement.org.uk/dontwakethebaby

What is a podcast?

The term “podcasting” was first used in February 2004. A podcast is like a radio show that you can listen to on demand. You subscribe to it on your smartphone and listen to it whenever you like. They can be any length, from a 1 minute news snippet, to a 3 hour in-depth interview. They can be any frequency, from daily to monthly. They can be any format, from simple solo shows up to multi-person audio dramas. Each episode is normally run by one or two regular presenters, talking about that subject. A lot of podcasts are really simple, just a few friends chatting about something that they’re all really passionate about.

What about faith?

Emma and Elliot are open on the podcast about being Christians but the main topics focus on parenting. They are following the Fresh Expression pathway of initially “loving and serving” and “building community” first and in time more elements of “church” will take shape. In many episodes Emma and Elliot share the work, vision and values of The Kairos Movement – exposing it to a larger audience outside the church (also offering follow-on opportunities for those wanting to connect or explore more). They also occasionally share small snippets of their faith journey, however, they keep it very ‘light’ and non-preachy. Emma and Elliot are the face of the project (hoping to showcase Christians as “normal” people who can have liberal views), and listeners feel they are relating to them as individuals, not to a church.

Has it been a success?

The podcast launched in July 2023 and produced 10 episodes over the summer plus a bonus outtake episode.

There have been over 1,000 Listens* of the podcast so far, and an engaged audience of 30-40 people who tune in each week. A real community is forming.

More importantly are the stories that emerge from those tuning in, with some comments including:

“You’ve got to keep making these as they’re what gets me to sleep on a night now.”

Non-church goer

“I listened to the first one and it was great. You and your other half really work so well together … Seriously I’ll be recommending it to all the parents I know.”

Non-church goer

“Just watched the intro! Looking forward to it. …. You need to do some more! For when I’m up in the night.”

non-church goer

“I’ve actually been listening to it, I must confess that I love it! I’ve listened to every episode apart from the multi births ep. I find it very relaxing (idea of it being hosted in a blanket/cover fort is very calming) … Yes, please keep the content coming!”

non-church goer

“I have been enjoying listening along!! We have a 5 yr old and another on the way in a month or so… So hearing your baby stories and survival tips were at the right time … it has been good to hear another couples parenting and birth experiences! Thanks for sharing your stories (and crafts… I am a big artsy fan!)”

Kairos Listener

“Just wanted to get in touch and say I’ve been listening to your podcast and really enjoying it – looking forward to catching up with the other episodes very soon! … Keep going!”

Lucy Rycroft, currently hosts the “Parenting for Faith” podcast by BRF, and runs “The Hope-Filled Family” parenting blog

How can your church use this resource to engage with parents?

Many churches, whilst providing great community groups for babies, toddlers and families, often struggle to offer anything to engage with the parents who bring their children. Initiatives like Messy Church and Stay-and-Play toddler groups often attract many non-church goers (unaffiliated) from the community, but the only follow-on opportunities are by inviting them to church on a Sunday morning. This is not likely to work for busy parents (outside of whether your Sunday service is suitable for millennials). This is where a digital initiative (online church or “grace space”) is ideally suited.

As a district, we recognised that local churches and circuits were unlikely to have the time, skills or resources to create something like this but that we could create a district-wide project that could be used by all.

If you have Church baby/toddler groups, Messy Churches, or anything aimed at families… Then here’s how you could utilise the podcast:

Support the parents you are in contact with by sharing the podcast with them

Send Elliot details of your (Yorkshire) CYF groups to be shared with podcast listeners

Use the themes and topics of the podcast as ideas for talking points or even a discussion group at your local church

Learn from the podcast what the issues and life experience is of young parents in order to cater your family ministry or Sunday service to be more relevant to their lives

An example of what “online church” / Grace space could look like. A template for how to pioneer something new online.

Elliot says:
We want to free you up so you can minister to children while we minister to the parents. Remember we are all working together to grow God’s kingdom. Our aim shouldn’t be to get these parents to come to your church on a Sunday – and it doesn’t matter where they get their spiritual belonging or discipleship from. It may be online, it may be in person. It may be at your church midweek, it may be at a different church, it may be through a podcast, it may be talking with other parents, or it may be within The Kairos Movement.

Let’s work together!


*Podcasts are usually measured in “Downloads”, however, this figure is a combined total of YouTube views and podcast downloads.

Elliot works for Yorkshire North and East Methodist District as Digital Enabler
Emma has the volunteer role of Synod Secretary in the District

Both are members of The Kairos Movement (a pioneering, non-geographical circuit/church) and also attend Starbeck Methodist Church in the Nidd Valley Circuit.

September Synod

District Synod is a twice-yearly event for those in local churches around Yorkshire North and East. An opportunity for us to gather to worship, learn and share stories. Everyone is welcome to attend – connect with others from all around the district in learning, sharing experiences, challenges, and discussions.

Our upcoming Synod is on Saturday 9th September 2023 and the theme is “Many parts, one body” as we celebrate and reflect upon various parts of the diverse ministry and mission within the District and the wider Connexion.

As part of our carbon commitment, this Synod is going to be in a hybrid format: on-site at Acomb Methodist Church in York, and online via Zoom.

For more details, including how to let us know numbers for those attending at Acomb, see our webpage: https://www.yorkshirenemethodist.org/district/synods/

New podcast for parents

Do you have a toddler group, Messy Church, or engage with families in your church?

“Don’t wake the baby!” is a newly launched podcast by Elliot and Emma Crippen for parents of under 5s with the aim of building community around Yorkshire to offer mutual support. The pilot series is being released during July and August 2023 with new episodes each week on YouTube and podcasting platforms. Parents can unwind to a wholesome mix of parenting, humour and crafting – sharing experiences with each other and exploring how parenting has changed.

This is a digital ‘New Place for New People’ being sponsored by Yorkshire North and East Methodist District, and being held within The Kairos Movement

Find out more here: www.kairosmovement.org.uk/dontwakethebaby/

Do share with parents you’re in contact with – it’s ideal for those on the fringes of church. Maybe you could use it as a way to keep families engaged while you take a break over the summer. Or maybe you want to publicise it to parents when your children’s groups restart in September.

If you run something that attracts parents or families, do let Elliot know – we can provide you with some leaflets about the podcast. And we can publicise your group to our listeners! digital@yorkshirenemethodist.org

Methodist Summer Spaces – join in on social media

As part of our weekly “sharing church stories” posts in our District Facebook Group, we are encouraging churches to share online how they are providing for their community by creating a #MethodistSummerSpaces post. Try this easy, engaging content idea for your church’s social media this summer.

What is it all about?

Many Methodist Churches offer community spaces and activities throughout the week: holiday clubs, messy church, coffee mornings, cafes, food banks, uniform recycling, warm (or cool) spaces, tech hubs, lunch clubs, youth groups, tabletop sales, and much more.

To raise awareness of the great work Methodists do, and to share church stories with others, whether they are churchgoers or not, we invite you to share a picture or video of one of your church spaces (church hall, cafe, lounge, room, garden or other) along with some text to share about the community activities you’re offering this summer. This can be done through commenting on our weekly post in the District Facebook Group – sharing church stories – but we hope also an opportunity to use it as an engaging post on your church’s social media.

We hope this is an easy way for your church to show off its wonderful community work to the online world, in a different way to the usual church poster and invite. If church life in your circuit is ‘quieter’ over the summer, due to holidays, you may need some fresh ideas for social media posts during July and August. You may also be looking for ways to engage with people in the community who don’t go to church at the moment. In either case, taking part in #MethodistSummerSpaces could help you.

How can my church get involved?

> Pick a “space” in your church (church hall, cafe, lounge, room, garden or other) and take the best picture you can (or maybe do a video!)

> Write some text about what activities are taking place in the space this summer for those in the community. Think about midweek and community-focused events (not church-focused events like Sunday worship, bible studies, or prayer groups). And consider how you might tell the story of the work your church does – this isn’t about inviting people or getting them to come along. It’s about raising awareness and sharing the great work you do for the community.

> Finally, include the hashtag #MethodistSummerSpaces

Post your picture and text on social media (personal or church account – maybe in a local community Facebook Group?) or in the comments of our weekly “Sharing Church Stories” post in our District Facebook Group

Create your #MethodistSummerSpaces post today, or anytime that suits you during July and August. We can’t wait to see your posts!

Top tips

  • Use the social media platform that is engaged with the most by your local community.
  • Keep your caption as short and sharp as possible, making use of paragraphs to space text out. 
  • Choose whether to take the picture portrait or landscape, depending upon the platform you are wishing to share it on. Generally speaking, portrait works well on Facebook and Instagram, and landscape on Twitter.
  • If shooting a video, think about light, sound and stability. Make sure the camera is as still as possible. Make sure the speaker is well lit. If they are stood directly in front of a window, they may become silhouetted, making it hard for the viewer to see. Standing them just to one side may be better. Finally, try and record the video with as few people around as possible to cut out any unwanted noise. 

This idea was created by our District Digital EnablerElliot Crippen. Inspired by the CofE summer campaign: #StainedGlassSummer

Find more digital resources for churches by Elliot over in our Digital Resources Hub

New District Net-Zero Officer

Welcome Tim O’Brien – Our District Net-Zero Officer!

We are delighted to announce that Tim is joining the District Staff Team from May 2023, Tim’s 3-year role, which is fully funded by the Benefact Trust, is to support churches and circuits continue to join in with the district-wide commitment for the Methodist Church in Yorkshire North and East to be net-zero by 2040.

Reflecting on the role Tim says: 

‘Being interviewed for this Net Zero Officer role was my first experience of being interviewed for a job I actually really want to do!

The District’s realistic, determined commitment to achieving important Net Zero targets is impressive and a crucial aspect of how we live out our calling as people of good news in this generation. I am genuinely honoured to be given the opportunity to help Methodist churches and people play our part in bringing about the creation care agenda shared by so many individuals and communities in ‘God’s Own Country’.

We live near Harrogate and for the last fifteen years or so, my wife, Sam, and I have been part of the Pateley Bridge Circuit and we are now increasingly involved in the District’s Kairos group.

I have enjoyed a varied career in the UK and further afield, working for some or the world’s largest corporations. However, as I mentioned to Sam during the recruitment process for this role, this was my first experience of being interviewed for a job I actually really want to do’!

You can contact Tim by email at netzero@yorkshirenemethodist.org

Worship Resources for Flourish Sunday

Kindly produced and complied by the Nidd Valley Methodist Circuit for other churches and circuits to use on Sunday 16th April when many will be at Flourish, our district weekend, in Scarborough. This service is offered as a resource for those churches making ‘local arrangements’ over the ‘Flourish’ weekend (April 14-16 2023) and provides material which can be adapted as required to suit your church and its needs.

  • A written service, including sermon, hymns and prayers (can be used in full or in part)
  • Full video service for use online or in church buildings
  • Sermon / talks from the above service as separate files

Find the online service to watch or share on our District YouTube Channel

Download Resources

Or download any of the above for local use from our Flourish Resources Folder

Flourish Volunteers

The Flourish Planning Team are looking for a team of willing volunteers to help make the weekend happen!

These roles will range from Car Park Duty (yes, this will mean wearing a hi-vis vest!) to stewarding on the doors and helping make sure everyone is welcome.

You will need a ticket but will receive some food/drink vouchers for the spa facilities

If you are interested in helping out, please register your interest here https://forms.office.com/e/8hvxLpvHQL Thank you!

Flourish Brochure Released

We are really excited to share our completed brochure for Flourish 23 – Rooted in Love with you!

Find a digital download of the brochure on our website – printed copies will be available in advance of Flourish, and will be distributed to local circuits shortly

In our brochure you will find:

  • Full programme and timetable for the weekend
  • Vital Information for the weekend
  • Details of all contributors, speakers, musicians, and workshop leaders
  • Workshop details and descriptions
  • Map of the town and Spa, including venues for sessions
  • Children’s, Youth, and Family Programme
  • Details on the Marketplace and Flourish Merch
  • Learn more about our partners, local & national organisations


Warm Spaces Zoom Gathering

Are you involved in a Warm Space at or from your church? Or thinking of launching one?
Come and share your Warm Space experiences, stories, and questions at a district ‘YN&E Warm Spaces Zoom Gathering’

It’s a 60 minute zoom, designed to encourage one another, share tips/stories, and a sense of how God is at work in people’s lives!

Warm Spaces Zoom Gathering
Wednesday 11th January

Facilitated by Ruth Gilson-Webb (Circuits Support Team Leader)



The district has offered Warm Space grants to churches running local venues. We are offering this zoom meeting for those involved in running them to come and share stories/experiences/challenges etc so that we can see what’s happening and possibly offer more support.

  • 11 churches have had a district WS grant, and have been invited to the zoom gathering.
  • 8 further churches are registered on www.warmwelcome.uk as running a WS and have been invited.
  • We believe there are other churches also running warm spaces around the district – without district funding and not registered on the warm welcome site. We’d love you to come along!

Is Methodism still rooted in song?

Our District Administrator, Naomi Prince, shares an article written for the Methodist Recorder which looks at the outcome of research done for her undergraduate dissertation.

‘Methodism is Born in Song’ – a phrase that is frequently said in the Methodist church, and whilst historically this might be the case, can the Methodist Church say that hymns carry the same importance within the 21st Century church as they historically did? I have spent the last year researching this question and subsequently wrote a dissertation titled ‘An analysis of the role of the hymn in the Twenty-first century Methodist Church’, because while hymns still form the centre of our services, is the function that hymns play in our faith lives the same as they historically did?

In January 2022 I launched a questionnaire on social media, asking the 21st Century Methodist Church their opinions and understandings about the use and function of hymns. These questions ranged from understanding whether people understood what an authorised hymnody was to whether music was a way that they had experienced God, and the answers were fascinating.  This following article is going to summarise my findings, as many who participated indicated that they would be interested to hear the results, so I hope that you find them as fascinating as I did.


Authorised Hymnody

For those of you who might not be aware of this, the Methodist Church has an authorised hymnody which means hymnbooks that are published by the Methodist Church are approved by Methodist Conference as pieces of work that express the doctrine and theology of the church. For the most recent hymnbook Singing the Faith this meant that the hymnbook was put under the scrutiny of the Faith and Order Committee who deemed that every hymn fits within Methodist Theology.

While this is understood at the organisational level of the church, I was interested to see if this understanding had filtered down into our churches, so asked people to share their understanding of what having an authorised hymnody meant. 44% of participants used the words doctrine, theology, or belief in their responses, with another 20% of responses indicating an understanding that the hymnbook was collated and approved by the organisational body of the church. These responses indicate that the authorised nature of our hymnbooks is not well known among Methodist congregations, and this is suggested even more when I linked whether people were trained in ministry (such as worship leader, local preacher or minister) to their answers.

The majority of those who were trained in ministry had an understanding about the history behind our hymnbooks, thus suggesting further that this tradition is not known within our local churches.  

Who owns our hymnbooks?

Historically, the most significant hymnbook that was published was published in 1780 and was titled A collection of hymns for the Use of the People called Methodists. This hymnbook was a collation of hymns that follows the journey of a Christian from Sinner to Believer and was used by John Wesley to educate members of the church on some key aspects of Methodist theology such as the characteristics of God to salvation. Previous hymnbooks published by John Wesley often focused on a particular theme, however congregations started to ask John Wesley for one hymnbook which could be used throughout the year and in multiple settings, which is why the 1780 Hymnbook was published. This hymnbook was incredibly popular and was a staple within the early Methodist Church, undergoing many different editions, with a lot of future hymnbooks feeding off the content of this hymnal. Within the modern church the hymnbooks which have been authorised are the 1933 Hymnbook The Methodist Hymnbook, Hymns and Psalms and Singing the Faith.

Within the last 100 years there have been three different authorised hymnodies published, so I was interested to see which hymnbooks people had a physical copy of, and subsequently how they used them.

On the graph above you can see the findings from this question, with the orange colour indicating those who aren’t trained in ministry, and the blue showing those who are. Due to space the hymnbooks are identified by publication date, so for clarity 1933 was The Methodist Hymnbook, 1983 Hymns and Psalms, and 2011 is Singing the Faith. This graph shows that those who are trained in ministry are more likely to own hymnbooks, especially when referring to Singing the Faith. Now this might not seem surprising, as when putting together worship a hymnbook is quite helpful when it comes to picking hymns. However, this development is interesting as it was not that long ago that Methodist members were expected to own their own hymnbook and bring it to church each Sunday. With less people owning hymnbooks, has the personal relationship with one and their hymnbook also been lost?

Use of the hymnbook

A collection of hymns for the use of people called Methodists
1. Exhorting Sinners to God and Describing the characteristics of God
2. Describing Formal and Informal Religion
3. Repentance and Salvation
4. For Believers
5. For Society

My research suggests that this answer is yes, as historically there was a practice of using hymnbooks for personal devotion and prayer. For John Wesley, hymns were a place for devotion as it was a way that he found the faith of God could be communicated to the everyday person. During the early part of his life, John Wesley played an important role in the translation of Moravian hymns from German to English, and this study assisted him in his faith life. This personal relationship with hymns was something that John Wesley brought into Methodism with hymns being a way of ‘personal piety and spirituality’. It can be argued that the 1780 Hymnbook was designed primarily for this purpose, with Wesley writing in the preface that the hymnbook was for ‘every truly pious reader, as a mean of raising or quickening the spirit of devotion; of confirming his faith; of enlivening his hope; and of kindling and increasing his love to God and man’. When looking at the index of this hymnbook – see a brief description of each section above – you can see that it is only the last section of this index which is titled ‘For Society’ suggesting that this is the only section for use with other Methodists.

So, when I set up the questionnaire I was intrigued as to how the 21st Century Methodist Church used their hymnbook, and whether this practice was still alive. As you can see in the graph to the side, it can be said that it is, but that the predominant function the hymnbook plays is in preparing worship and use during a Sunday Service, with 86% of participants selecting that option as a response. It is here where I wish that I had been more specific in my questionnaire, as it would have been interesting to see if age was a contributing factor to how people responded. It could be assumed that those who use their hymnbook for prayer and personal devotion were older members due to the tradition of the church that they grew up in where access to a physical and personal copy of a hymnbook was more common, but unfortunately my questionnaire did not gather this information. It cannot be denied that this practice is still alive in the church, just maybe not to the extent that it used to although it is hard to be certain in this due to no existing data.

There was another interesting comparison between whether people were trained to lead worship and how they used their hymnbook as you can see in the graph above. When it comes to using hymnbooks as a way for personal devotion and prayer it is seen more commonly among those who are trained in leading worship. 89% of those who are trained ticked the boxes ‘personal devotion’ and ‘prayer’ compared to 49% of those who are not trained in leading worship. This therefore suggests that the training provided to those in Worship Leading, Local Preaching and Ministry positions inspires use of their hymnbooks outside of a Sunday Service. It could also potentially be explained by the fact that those who are trained in leading worship have a more active devotional practice however this is a theory. Regardless of why, this data suggests that this element of Methodist tradition is getting lost, and if hymns are still considered as theological and doctrinal documents of the church, there should be some encouragement and education on how to use a hymnbook outside of a Sunday Service.

Hymns and Faith Life

While on a ship on the way to America for a mission trip, John Wesley met a group of Christians from Europe called the Moravians, and through this meeting was introduced to the power of music in strengthening faith and being a way to connect with God. From this meeting, hymns became a crucial part of John Wesley’s faith life and something he brought to the Methodist Church.

Due to music being a core element of the denomination of Methodism I was intrigued to see whether music had played an important role in people’s faith life. I asked participants to answer two questions, the first being whether music had played a significant role in the development of their faith, and then another question asking whether hymns were a way that they experienced God regularly in Church.

Whilst responses to both questions show how important music is in people’s faith life, its interesting to see that 85% of participants recognise music as playing a significant role, whereas 76% also see music as a way for regular connection with God. This suggests that while music enables people to have a regular connection with God, it is also a part of worship that enables transformation in someone’s faith life.

Outside the context of faith, there is lots of research into the impact that music can have on a person. For example, when we listen to music the hormone dopamine is released and multiple areas of the brain which are involved in emotional responses are engaged. This emotional response is also heightened when experienced with other people, so the emotive connection and ease of connection with God through music may be partly explained through this neurological response. Research into the relationship between music and lyrics is also an area which provides some explanation as to how music is such a powerful form of connection between an individual and God.  In his book ‘The Experience Factor’ Geoff Luck says that lyrics that contain ‘enhancing and inspirational themes [that] can seriously increase long term appreciation and depth of engagements’ due to a sensation of ‘knowing that lyrics represent something bigger that us’. When put into the context of religious music this idea of them being written about something ‘bigger than us’ is very fitting, as we are often singing about a God who is beyond our full understanding, so this combined with music being a way for emotional expression could explain how music allows such a powerful connection with God.

Hymnbooks as a source of education

As mentioned above, the content of our hymn books contains the theology and doctrine of the Methodist Church, which subsequently means that each individual hymn can be a place for teaching. For example, the Charles Wesley hymn And Can it Be contains references to 15 different Bible passages, as well as reinforces the theology that salvation is free and free to everyone. Whilst not all hymns have the same theological richness as each other it is undeniable that they all have the potential to teach, however that requires people to engage with the lyrics and reflect on their meaning. Despite the devotional practice surrounding hymnbooks having declined, 81% of participants still responded yes when asked if they engaged with lyrics when singing them in church.

The participants were also encouraged to write a more detailed response and these answers were interesting. There were comments about how the move away from hymnbooks makes reflection on the lyrics of hymns harder due to them being projected onto a screen, alongside the comment that the language of some hymns is restricting, while other responses recognised the significance of lyrics and how powerful they can be when they fit with the theme of the service.  However, it cannot be denied that the music used in worship is recognised as an important element of worship, with the lyrics containing content that prompts reflection, whether that’s before, during or after the service.

While hymns might prompt reflection, I was also interested to see if people turn to their hymnbooks to learn about the doctrine and theology of the Methodist Church. Historically hymns were used to help introduce people to some Methodist teaching and therefore might be more accessible than Wesley’s sermons.  As you can see, 61% if respondents turn to their hymnbooks for education on Methodist Theology and Doctrine, however again there is an interesting comparison between those who are trained in leading worship and those who aren’t as you can see below.

What this graph shows us is that if people are trained in leading worship, they are more likely to turn to their hymnbooks to learn about Methodist theology and doctrine. This again raises the question of awareness, as this correlation suggests that the training taken by those who lead worship provides some education into the history surrounding hymnody and the Methodist Church.

Hymnody and Evangelism

The Methodist Church has a history rich with evangelism, reaching those in marginalised areas and bringing them to faith. John Wesley travelled to areas where there weren’t churches and preached outside so that all could hear, and hymnody played an important role in this. In the questionnaire that was released in January, I asked participants to answer the following question ‘Do you believe hymns are still an important element in being an evangelistic church? Why or why not?’ but due to the scale of participants that responded it was not a question that I could fully explore in my dissertation due to the word count. However, the answers indicated that 53% of participants felt that hymns were still an important element of bringing people to faith, however there was a recognition that there were some issues. For example, some of the language of hymns is not that accessible, and in order for people to hear the lyrics they need to be in church so if people are not coming through church doors they won’t be able to experience teaching through hymn lyrics, or experience God through music.

There were also quite a few comments about hymns being out of date and old fashioned, with there being an idea that we need new hymns and new styles of worship in churches to bring people through the front doors. Unfortunately, I was unable to delve deeper into this during my undergraduate but am now taking a research masters to explore this very question of whether hymns still have evangelistic potential, whether they are too old or if this is a misunderstanding. This also means that there will be another questionnaire coming so keep an eye out for that!

Have hymnbooks become less important?

The final question in my questionnaire asked participants to answer yes or no to the following question ‘In your time as someone linked to a Methodist Church, do you believe Methodist Hymnbooks have become less important?’ and how people answered this question was surprising. As you can see in the graph just opposite, the responses were 50/50, with 209 participants responding No to 205 responding Yes.

Originally, I thought that this response was unhelpful, as it shows that the church is very split in its thoughts. However, it was through conversation with various people that I came to realise that the fact that the church was split 50/50 on this question is quite significant. Historically the hymnbook was a central aspect of our church. It was at the heart of people’s devotional life and was how people were introduced to the theology and doctrine of the church, so one could assume that the hymnbook would be seen as an important aspect of our denomination. However, the response to this questionnaire suggests that this view has changed, with 50% of respondents feeling that hymnbooks have become less important.

Now while this might seem quite damming to the Methodist tradition of hymn singing, it must be noted that when given the opportunity to expand their answers some people emphasised that whilst hymnbooks might have lost importance, they didn’t think hymns had lost importance. Some explained that due to the introduction of technology, physical hymnbooks were less important due to the availability of projection, or that due to the internet they didn’t need a hymnbook.

But with everything else my research brought up, what does this mean?

What does this research mean for the 21st Century Church?

With the rise of the internet and the vast number of newly published worship material it could be argued that the need for a physical hymnbook is declining. The statistics from my research show that hymnbooks are not playing as important a role in individuals faith life, and with the rise of churches having WiFi and projection, physical hymnbooks are not required in churches in the same way. But does this mean that the Methodist Church has lost its DNA in hymn singing.

No – I don’t think it has. I believe that the church has lost some tradition surrounding hymns, and maybe there needs to be some reflection done about the devotional practice of hymns with some education regarding our history, but with the growing industry of worship music maybe the importance of hymns is changing. I also think that while a physical hymnbook may be losing importance there is the potential of unlocking a digital hymnbook which can be updated and edited with ease.

I don’t believe that the Methodist Church is finished with hymns, but I do believe that the role of hymnbooks has changed, although whether for the better I do not know. There is so much power in the hymns in our hymnbooks, and I would encourage people to turn to their hymnbooks in times of prayer and devotion because hymns are a brilliant way to connect and learn about God.

This research is not the end of my study into hymns but is also what I believe needs to be the start of further research and reflection into how Methodists use hymns in their churches and faith life. If anyone would like to contact me for more information about this research, please contact me on naomiprince29@gmail.com – I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions.