The following is a blog I posted in Oct 2020 that best encapsulates where our thinking is at as we emerge from the pandemic…..
Light Church - New Vision
When I started as pastor in January 2020, I strongly felt God say ‘See, I am doing a new thing.’ In September I shared with you the fresh vision that we as a leadership believed God is giving to us as a church. Although ‘new’ it is built on the foundations we see in the early church, on what God is doing throughout the world and it is built on all the Light church has been for the last 12 years.
In many respects the timing was all wrong, sharing a new vision over youtube and when we aren’t able to just ‘get on with it’. But I’m trusting God that the timing is perfect. Just as the plants retreat during winter, receiving all of the nutrients they need to burst back into life, God is feeding us so that when the pandemic ends, we will be ready to burst back into life!
Though we also need to acknowledge there is still plenty that God is up to - people coming to Jesus, love being shown in practical ways, and some real deepening of spiritual roots into him! The church is not shut!
In everything we express, we continue to write it in wet ink, knowing that God will continue to mould us and shape us and give us the right wording to express what is on His heart for us as a church. So, here is what I shared….
Light Church Vision
Our aim and vision is:
‘Loving Bradford Back to Life’
Through a strategy of:
‘One Church, many homes’
‘A family of disciples making disciples’
You’ve already heard me preach all of this, but let me unpack this a bit more…..
Before I write anything else I want to be really clear that all of this is written with a very real understanding that we are simply part of the wider church in Bradford. The Light Church is not the answer, but the Bradford Church is! We link arms with every other church who seeks
to bring the kingdom of God to our city, proclaiming Jesus as Lord. When one church flourishes, we all flourish, when one suffers, we all suffer. There is no competition, we are all on the same side, and we prize and cherish unity with others.
Loving Bradford Back to Life
We want to bring in His Kingdom, seeking to bring his rule of justice and righteousness to every sphere where he places us, his church. We will be the yeast in the dough, the salt in society and the light to this world. This means:
Bringing the kingdom wherever he places us and in whatever calling we have on our lives
Seeing the poor helped, injustice overthrown and broken lives transformed by his power
Proclaiming the good news that true peace (shalom) and eternal life is only found in Jesus and his triumph over death and sin, and leading people into that life
One Church Many Homes
We will seek to invert the normal expectation of the western church where Sunday attendance is expected, and smaller communities are optional. We acknowledge that a Sunday-centric model can (though not always) create a consumer mentality where only some can grow in their gifts. Our expectation will be Home Church as top priority and bigger Sunday church as second priority.
We believe that this model is flexible and expandable - a new wineskin for new wine. This takes off the limits of how large the church can grow, by removing the reliance on a building large enough to hold everyone, every Sunday.
We recognise that this approach can see more people using their gifts, and should be more effective at creating active disciples
We recognise the desire in society for connection and being known and how that can be lost in bigger church. This allows us to become a bigger church that is still a family.
Yet we also totally know that our Sunday meetings are incredibly valuable too:
Larger worship and teaching experiences are a valuable part of our spiritual diet
It keeps us united as ‘One Church’
Sundays and social action are such a great shop window for the curious to connect and the connected to commit - an easy place of entry for those considering faith or us considering joining us as a church.
A family of disciples making disciples
We want to first and foremost be a family - a place where people belong and also learn to get along with those who are different to them
We want to be disciples - people who are continually learning what it means to be an apprentice of Jesus. Learning to live in obedience to the way of Christ.
We believe a great but simple discipleship framework is brilliantly summed up in this phrase stolen from John Mark Comer ‘Be with Jesus, Become like Jesus, Do what Jesus would do’
Disciples that make disciples - just as Jesus sent his disciples to teach others to obey all that he has commanded, we want to do the same. To be discipled and disciple others, whether we’ve been close to him for years, or are just discovering who he is.
We recognise the importance of close relationships to make this happen. Support, encouragement, mentoring and challenge will be a part of our culture as we go forward. All helping us to seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.
We believe that as we do that, God will make the Light Church bigger, stronger and more beautiful.