We want to start our own Sunday morning church gathering.
For a while we had been meeting with friends on Sunday mornings in a hall in Standens Barn, in Northampton’s eastern district. As a whole congregation we’d been looking to relocate somewhere that made more sense in terms of outreach and closeness to home, but unfortunately we weren’t able to find any halls available near our house.
Around that time another couple of our church house-groups were also looking to relocate. This led to us 60 or so from Standens Barn merging the other congregation of 40 and moving together to a hall in Duston School.
Why we’re here
A year ago when we moved into Northampton we had three aims, which are still very relevant:
- More people to find Jesus
For this, it makes sense to live closer to unbelievers for both incidental relationship building and deliberate evangelism.
- To disciple one another
Young people with a life to live need a challenge, and being believed in and launching out on a shared adventure will do them good.
- To innovate community for the wider church
It’s opportunity to experiment and something new happening that will stir hope.
How that relates to Sunday morning congregation meetings:
- Neighbourhood meetings were designed for both gathering and outreach. For people living in the countryside it makes sense to travel to town to meet in a neighbourhood where they’re at work (not that any of us are evangelising in Duston anyway), but for us we leave a place in which we’re seeking to reach out to go to a place we’re not. Having a Sunday morning congregation near our house would have been an ideal solution but meeting in Duston (or Standens Barn) actually works against our first aim.
- When we were in a group of 50-60 in SBarn I was one of 3 teachers, and Josh and Andy were starting to get involved in hosting meetings. I’m sure there was an opportunity for others too if they were up for it. Now that Duston is a group of 80-90 and I’m one of 7 teachers there simply isn’t the same opportunity for discipleship there. The congregation doesn’t really need us. Starting our own Sunday morning meeting will create a massive challenge, and therefore an opportunity for ministry.
We have a good crew in the orbit of our houses with 15-18 regularly at our bible study, and this wider group in turn gives good vitality to our core, so we want to nurture it. We’d expect (and hope) many of these friends to continue being active members in other Sunday congregations, but it just proves there’s opportunity for things to grow around an initiative of our core folk.
As for the core, it’s growing gradually and steadily and is becoming more balanced with a couple looking to move into the area this December/January.
And why make this a Sunday morning meeting, not something on a Saturday night or whatever? Expectations. People to still expect the “proper” church meeting to be on a Sunday morning, and this will keep us focused and help people see us as their Church.
So, in summary, we want to start our own Sunday morning meeting because:
- We want more people to find Jesus
- Our guys need opportunity to grow into ministry
- We’re not needed in Duston
- It will help our scene gain traction
We’re very much into keeping things small, so if things grow too large for our front lounge we’d appreciate the challenge of training more leaders so we could split into two, rather than hire a community centre.
We’ll see where this goes, and as usual if it doesn’t go anywhere we’ll happily change tack and join in with whatever God has for us next.
Recently a few of us have also been exploring gatherings in the early Jerusalem church. Read Joz’s post: Getting Back To The Roots – The Agape Meal, and expect a few more soon.