The call of localism: community based worship29th May 2015
Distance can limit the number of people who join your services and in Brighton, one church has felt God call them to get more local.
Church of Christ the King used to meet in one building, with a morning and an evening service. They had a dedicated congregation but they also wanted to offer people more opportunities to come to church.
The first step the Church took was having ‘zones’. Zones are groups meeting locally across Brighton between services offering more support and giving people more options, as Christian Finer explains. The idea blossomed, it got people thinking and Christian suggests that:
“Getting the people in the church thinking in a geographical way was the biggest change. It concentrated them on thinking about their neighbours and how they could bless their community – thinking about their own areas more deeply.”
This emphasis on care has driven the work to get out to different communities and, as the church has grown to work over different sites, they’ve worked hard to keep everyone together too. A mixture of social media, video content and regular events at the biggest site helps everyone feel their shared mission.
The first site to have its own service was Shoreham. With a half hour journey into Brighton and no fast public transport, it was a great choice. People coming in from Shoreham were able to enjoy a service round the corner and a great result was that now they could invite their friends to come along much more easily!
The Church has expanded to two services in central Brighton, two in Shoreham, two morning meetings in East Brighton and most recently two meetings in Hove. The fruit from all that hard work is there to see in the friends who’ve joined their congregation and the additional baptisms they’ve performed.
Baptism has changed along with the rest of their Church. Baptisms now happen over all their sites now, rather than just centrally, there were 57 baptisms last year.
Because of the need to drive their equipment out and set up tanks, often in hired premises, having a set of portable Baptistry UK Nonagons worked well for them. Christian agreed: “they are compact enough to go in with the rest of the stuff when we drive out, and they’re ok on space when they’re stored too”.
There was a special moment reaching out into communities this Easter. Christian says “I was there for the baptism at Easter. What was nice and a bit different was that we had two Chinese people get baptised, they shared their testimony in Mandarin for their friends and then we got it translated for everyone else in the room.”
That baptism marks a new beginning for them. Working locally has make the Church of Christ the King accessible and offered people a sense of being part of something bigger as all across the city baptisms take place simultaneously.