Reflections

 

The need for building?

Some of the decisions taken in 1965 still affect us today. The heating system was inadequate, and cause cracking of the walls. The proposed gallery at the rear of the church changed the nature of the space entirely. It would have prevented us from doing many of our current activities. However, the vision of building a church of this size in the ‘God is dead’ decade of the 1960’s is truly inspired.

The question we must address time and again is ‘To build, or not to build’ and ‘What are our buildings for’. Are we, as the bishop says in the consecration service, building to show Gods glory and somehow expecting Him to stay in the building, or are our buildings merely a tool? In the 30th birthday video 1 Kings 8:22-61 is shown. This seems like a useful passage; it reminds us that God cannot be contained in a building (v27), but concentrates on the use of the building as a focus for the people. So that, for example they may pray towards the building and God will hear them. This does not mean that the building itself is prayed to. In a society such as ours, where not everyone is convinced even of the existence of God, building to His glory provides a focal point in the community. It has to be noticeable in its own right to achieve this. In our case this is the illuminated cross on the top of our building. It also has to be used, and available, and we have a number of events that do this, both regular youth outreach, and various one off’s, like the 30th Birthday arts festival.

The church (and its people), is also a place people can turn to, to encounter God and experience his forgiveness (v33 & 34). In Samuel’s case, this was for the nation, in our case it applies to the individual. This is because our building is not of national importance, but it does have an importance to the local community.

 

Gods Promises

The 1 Kings passage also reminds us that God has kept his promise, something that we have seen many times in our life at Christ church. The vision of David to build for God, is paralleled by the vision of those who purchased the land, in the 1930’s (it was much too large for the hut, or even the current church), and the people who built the church in 1965. Even in a growing area the church was enormous, but God has fulfilled his promises to us also. Christ church provides a reasonably flexible worship space. However many compromises had been made from the original design, enabling us to do things that would never have been dreamt of like the art exhibition, a 3D obstacle course for a youth event, and various concerts. All easily fit in. The building has been useful in gathering the congregation in a developing area, and attracting people to see who God is (we hope), through the people who worship there. There were 400 baptisms in one year, in the late 60’s.

 

Christ’s Church

Throughout the building process, the fund raising and the difficulties and disagreements, the things that people remember the most are the fellowship. God has built His community around the church, just as He had in Samuel’s time. Hopefully we are easier to join than the Jews turned out to be. Indeed, we have a reputation for being friendly and ‘adopting’ people, at least that is what some of our visitors tell us. An example of this occurred during the 1980s when a local independent Christian community broke up. Most of them joined our church, and many of them are still with us.

 

Outreach

Not everything we do is covered by one Old Testament passage. We must also consider the New Testament commands of Jesus. Particularly the command in Matthew 28:19 to make disciples. We have been obedient to this in a number of different ways:

  • Supporting ordination candidates
  • Regular events for Mothers and Toddlers, Children after school, and the early teens
  • Supporting missionaries, both from other areas and our own church

 

Love

Our congregation is organised into Home Groups, for mutual support, and mutual study, in this way we are obeying Jesus’ command in John 13:34 to love one another. Not everyone will join a Home Group, but those that do not are asked regularly as the Home groups change and new ones form. Special provision is always made for them when Home Groups run events, such as the Maundy Thursday Agape meal.

There is also an opportunity to ask for and receive prayer in the services. Practical help is also available, some of it happens naturally and without formal organisation. Other help is coordinated by our pastoral coordinators.

 

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