Emotional Return For Organisers Of Christian Exhibition

The UK’s leading annual exhibition of Christian resources returns to Sandown Park in Esher, Surrey (Oct 12-14) – and readers of Keep The Faith can claim a free ticket worth £8

Almost 18 months after doors closed on their last exhibition, organisers of the Christian Resources Exhibition, often dubbed the ‘ideal church show’, are gearing up for an emotional return to Sandown Park in Esher, Surrey (Oct 12-14 2021).

A comprehensive, three-day programme of seminars and workshops will help churches, old and new, respond to the many changes and opportunities brought about by the pandemic.

Fresh resources will be available in areas like new technology, social media, streaming, creative arts, home groups, mission, youth, and children’s work. Expert advice will be on hand from more than 150 exhibitors, covering everything from church seating to heating, computers to communion wine. More than 4000 visitors are expected over the event’s three days.

With significant online congregations now plugging into traditional church services, Mission Worship Wednesday (13 Oct), featuring musicians like Graham Kendrick and Noel Robinson, will consider how we bring together physical and digital.  

“We will equip visitors with fresh ideas and strategies to go again in a new season for church and community,” said Mission Worship’s Mat Owen. “Come and worship – and be inspired by what God has for us all as we reach out to a shaken world.” 

“Hundreds of churches have harnessed new technology during the pandemic, reaching countless thousands who would never darken their doors on a Sunday,” said CRE owner, Steve Goddard. “A number of our specialist exhibitors, guiding churches with live streaming on a weekly basis, will help others take the next steps. While ‘old normal’ might feel comfortable, ‘new different’ is the future.”

Derek Clare, who formed New Day Audio Visual Specialists more than 20 years ago, thinks many churches are now reaching three distinct groups.

“Firstly, there are those in the church building,” he suggests. “Another group feel unable to return, but may well do so in the future. The final ‘congregation’ are people not previously reached, but who tune into services online. COVID-19 has been a disaster for the world, but created the biggest opportunity ever for mission.”

With finance a major concern during the pandemic, John Keskeys of Stewardship, will use a biblical framework to consider some healthy and unhealthy financial indicators in churches, with a view to helping them become more financially resilient in the aftermath of COVID-19. Alice O’Brien, from Dutch company GIVT, will speak on Digital Giving and the Hybrid Church (12pm, Wed 13 Oct). “With churches now existing physically and online,” said Alice, “we will explain how a unique digital giving solution is already being used by hundreds of UK churches.”

Aware that many potential visitors are keen to come to CRE but are COVID-cautious, the organisers have moved part of the exhibition from the main Surrey Hall to the Esher Hall below – allowing the creation of wider aisles. Other possible safety measures will depend on government stipulations at the time.

“Discovering resources online has been especially important during the pandemic,” said Steve Goddard, “but nothing is better than meeting the person behind the product. Face to face beats mouse to mouse, every time.”

• CRE National 2021 at Sandown Park, Esher, Surrey 
• Opening hours: Tue 12 and Wed 13 Oct, 10am-5pm; Thu 14 Oct, 10am-4.30pm. 
• Visit www.creonline.co.uk for more information and to book tickets. Tickets cost £8 on the door, but are free for readers of Keep The Faith who register in advance

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