Announcing our new Lead Pastor

Leadership and Trustee Teams - 15 April 2024

Yesterday, we announced the exciting news that Dave McKeown will be our next Lead Pastor!

Pete McMahon, the chair of trustees, and Rachel Dawson, Associate Pastor, told us all about it.

You can watch it here if you missed it or read the information below.

Dave will be meeting the wider leadership teams on Thursday evening and will be with us at church next Sunday. You can ask Dave or the Leadership / Trustee teams a question using this slido link.

Pete McMahon
Before we come to our main announcement we have some good news about Rachel which will hopefully provide a bit more context behind our appointment.

Throughout this recruitment process one of the key things we have recognised is the value that Rachel brings to the Light Church. She has such a heart and passion for the Light Church and a desire to see God at work in and through us, but she has also played a key part in bringing vision and establishing direction for the church. She was originally appointed as Assistant Pastor 4 years ago, but as she has grown in her role and taken on more leadership responsibility, it has become clear that she is no longer merely assisting the Lead Pastor but is a significant leader within the church in her own right. We wanted to recognise that and formalise it before a new Lead Pastor comes in, and so we took the decision at the start of this year that when Rachel returns from maternity leave later this year, she will do so as the Associate Pastor.

Now whilst we have always had it in mind that whoever we bring in needs to fit well with Rachel in a close working relationship, promoting her to Associate Pastor changed the emphasis on the sort of leader we were looking for; someone who would not only work well with her, but who would play a key role in continuing to develop her and champion her for all that God has for her in her future.

So without further ado, we are delighted to announce that at the end of a thorough and prayerfully considered recruitment process over the past year that we have now successfully recruited a new Senior Leader for the Light Church!!!!!

His name is Dave McKeown, he is married to a lady called Outi and they have a 15 year old son called Kristian. They are currently based down in the Rotherham/Sheffield area. Dave has held senior leadership positions in various churches over the past 23 years and brings a wealth of experience of leading in churches of different sizes, both smaller and larger than the Light Church.

One of the things we are very excited about Dave is that he is passionate about growing and developing people. Leadership development played a big part in his last role on the Senior leadership team at Ikon Church. Having spent time with him, we are confident that he will not only work very well with Rachel but also develop her for all that God has in store for her as she continues to grow in her ministry. And of course she won't be the only one to benefit from that - we are excited to see how he will bring that heart to grow and develop people in our community in the Light Church in their discipleship, callings and giftings.

I'm now going to hand over to Rachel to explain a bit more about the journey we've been on as a team, and why we believe Dave is the person that God has brought to us for this season at the Light Church.

Rachel Dawson
Thanks Pete, that's right so for those of you that haven't met me yet I'm Rachel the Associate Pastor and at the moment I'm about 5 months into my maternity leave after becoming a first time mum to baby Sophie in November. I just want to say thanks again to all those people that have prayed, provided and are so encouraging to us when we walk into church as a family - it really is very moving and we have been completely blessed. All throughout this year I have been doing my best to work with our wonderful leadership and trustee teams as part of this recruitment process.

Let me first tell you why I continue to be excited about this church because again, the context is such a key contributing factor as to why we've appointed Dave.

I believe we are a church that is on the move and I don't mean geographically, I mean in God. Let me unpack that. God has blessed and continues to bless this church remarkably with some incredibly strong foundations; providing not only for this physical building but in the ongoing prayer and work happening here on a daily basis week in week out, and by way of each one of you; our church family.

What is happening here already is good, very good even in lots of cases.

But, you can't put the fullness of what God has for us into any kind of pre-existing box. Where we are now is not where this church is called to stay forever; foundations in Him are made to be built on. And we are called to be even more hungry for the things of God.

In partnership with the Holy Spirit, this is where Dave comes in. In Dave, God has led us to someone with over 25 years experience of church leadership, the majority of which have been as a senior leader and most recently as a pastor and Dean of Ikon churches leadership academy in Sheffield. Dave started his ministry journey as an evangelist before working his way from Assistant Pastor to Senior Leader. He has a degree in biblical theology and a leadership coaching qualification; coaching other church leaders and supporting churches around the country and globally. He has a huge heart for discipleship, the local church, community outreach and already shares so much of the light church's DNA. He comes to us with bucket loads of experience in spotting and growing leadership gifting in others, he thinks strategically about greater impact for Gods kingdom, and if you're aware of the APEST framework Dave scores highest on his teaching, apostolic and evangelistic gifting.

I had the privilege of spending some time with Dave individually as part of the interview process and additionally there were 3 things that stood out to me personally that I feel really excited about. Dave really instilled confidence in me that he knows about the importance of being relational and building relationships well. I believe he has a very genuine excitement about getting to know us and coming alongside us relationally as we all go on this exciting next part of the journey together. He is becoming more and more captivated by the vision for our home churches; beacons of light in all these different places across the city not only as discipleship hubs but also as evangelistic, outreach and community transforming power houses - like we see in Acts. He asked us some great and challenging questions about that in his interview.

Linked to both of those things is that he understands the massive potential this church has. Basically God continuing to bless this church with His presence, His people and His provision so that we can continue blessing others - a bit like how Bradford school of theology blesses individuals and churches throughout Bradford and further afield.

God has blessed this church with years worth of exciting and miraculous vision in Him and He has called every individual in this church to shine like Kingdom of heaven gold as part of that. We believe Dave is the person God has brought us that will help us shine even brighter.

We have looked hard for Dave. Over the past year we have led 3 phases of recruitment and we have met with, and interviewed 8 wonderful people from a range of different contexts and we have prayerfully considered each individual or couple. We have pursued openness to the Holy Spirit's Leading and carefully sought God's wisdom in each case, being careful not to make a hasty decision but waiting for the person we believe God has appointed for the task.

We believe that person is Dave and we are thrilled.

Pete McMahon
So as you can see we are confident that Dave is the person God has provided to lead us, the Light Church, into this next season. We are excited to see him working alongside Rachel when she is back from maternity leave, Furaha and the rest of the team to lead us into all that God has for us.

As Dave mentioned in his video, he will be coming up to Bradford this coming Thursday to spend the evening with the wider leadership team. Then he and Outi will be joining us for our service next Sunday. We'll be giving over the sermon slot for an extended interview with Dave so that you can get to know him a bit and hear something of his heart and his passion. We feel this is a better way for you to get to know him rather than him doing a preach and then feeling like we are assessing him on that - one small aspect of being a senior leader. As part of that interview there will be a chance for you to ask him questions - we've created a Slido so that you can submit any questions you have either for Dave or for the Leadership or Trustee teams. This is now active and will be open all week.

And then all being well Dave's first day in post will be Monday 13th May!

Rachel Dawson
I just want to take a moment to once again acknowledge the work of the leadership and trustee teams and their families who also feel the impact of that work at home, particularly our chair Pete McMahon. This has been a huge amount of extra work; hours and hours worth on top of, for many of them, full time jobs in other workplaces and family life. In the continuation of our culture of honour and celebration, I want to thank Pete and also the leadership and trustee teams and your families. Thank you. It is very humbling to be a part of. As a church we are so blessed by how these guys diligently serve God and us knowing how to prayerfully seek Him at every step.

Matt Barlow moving on as Lead Pastor

Leaders & Trustees - 27 March 2023

Joint Announcement from the Leadership and Trustees of the Light Church

Yesterday morning we announced to our church family that our Lead Pastor and Co-Founder Matt Barlow will be stepping down at some point this year as Lead Pastor of the Light Church. This has very much been a decision made by Matt as he has reached the conclusion that God is leading him on.

As we announce it, we do so with a mixture of emotions. We are sad to be losing Matt as the leader of our church and yet we are incredibly grateful for the leadership he has brought to the church, especially in the last three years. We also remain excited for all that God has for us. We are a thriving, vibrant family of God, enjoying Hisvery real presence in our midst as lives are changed by His spirit. We believe God only has more of that for us and therefore we are excited for the next season..

When Matt came into his full-time post in January 2020, we were weeks away from a pandemic. We were also renting a building for Sundays that was likely to be sold and on the brink of a cost of living crisis. As we look back it is clear that Matt was called ‘for such a time as this.’

Matt’s energy and creativity in leading us through the pandemic ensured that we emerged from it as a cohesive and well-connected community. His ability to build teams sees us with a very strong group of leaders and trustees. His experience in leading through significant change enabled the purchase and renovation of the Jubilee Centre, securing the church’s home for years to come. His grasp of the business side of running a church, balanced with his faith in God to provide for our needs, has ensured we have been able to not only meet our financial obligations, but also continue to operate with a spirit of generosity. It is clear to us that with Matt’s skills and gifts, God had provided us with exactly what we needed to navigate those challenges and set the church up to thrive in the future.

Having spent a few months in prayerful consideration, we have decided that we are going to seek God for a replacement Lead Pastor. A man or woman with a heart for collaborative, empowering leadership, who believes there is more for us as a church and that God has better for the city of Bradford. In the coming weeks we will be beginning a spirit-led recruitment process and will be praying for God to draw the right person, couple, or family to us.

We are delighted that Matt and Josie’s intention is to remain as part of the Light Church family, presuming whatever comes next makes that possible. Matt does not have a new job to go to yet and will continue working in the church either until a successor is found or a new opportunity opens up for him. We are grateful to him for genuinely seeking the very best for the church in how he is handling stepping down.

Thank you so much for reading this. We ask that you join us in prayer for God’s provision for us. That along with the rest of the church in Bradford, we may be a confident, welcoming community, inviting this city into God’s family. That we all might experience his presence, his guidance and his comfort. We are confident that the loving, faithful God that we worship, who started a good work in this church, will continue bringing it to completion.

The Leaders and Trustees of the Light Church

Open hands and Open Arms

Matt Barlow - 15 December 2022

Over the last couple of years I’ve blogged at different times to acknowledge when people have moved on from the Light Church. It’s always a strange one in many ways, because we talk a lot about being family, but a family is not something you can leave, and yet…..people leave. In some ways it highlights the limits of that particular label, but perhaps it also should point us back to the reality that the whole church is what we would call ‘the family of God’ so just because someone is going somewhere else that doesn’t mean they stop being family.

There were a few things that I observed when we had a bit of a surge of people choosing to leave, mostly over the summer months. This wasn’t too surprising, summer is, after all, a time to stop and reflect, which can often leave to change. I think for some people it was also a year on since we rejoined post Covid, and that was a helpful time to stop and reflect. And before I go any further I want to express my genuine gratitude to God for those who took the time to either have a conversation with us, or at least write something down to express appreciation for all the church had meant to them. One thing I did notice, which definitely sweetened the news, was pretty much everyone was leaving with really positive things to say about the church alongside their reasons for moving on. I praise God when people can leave well, it is a sign of a healthy culture.

So here are some reflections on some of what was said:

Some people said, and have said previously: ‘We’re leaving the Light church, but still going to Home Church.’ Whilst I do really understand why people may think like this, we have been conditioned to see Sunday as ‘real church’ - the reality is that whether you only come on a Sunday or only come to a Home Church - you are part of our Light Church family.

I firmly believe that a blended diet of big church and home church is generally best and would encourage people to do both. However, if you feel led to stop engaging with Sundays but still attend a Home Church led by Light Church Home Church leaders, then you are still part of the Light Church (whether you like it or not - ha ha). Our church reality is this - if you are part of a Home Church and don’t engage with Sundays, you’re part of the Light Church. If you’re not part of a Home Church but engage with us regularly on Sundays - you’re part of the Light Church.

Everyone sees things differently - this really hit home when in the same week we had one family leave because we were focussing too much on Sundays and another family leave because we weren’t focussing enough on Sundays. Both had been wrestling with how we had relaunched post Covid and how it wasn’t working for their families. Both reasons were fully valid for each family in how they felt God leading, but it really reminded me of just how diverse we are and how we all like to express and practice our faith so differently to one another. Let’s all continue to have grace for each other when we see things differently and grace for us your leaders as we try to walk the continual balance of pleasing God first and foremost, but then pleasing you lot as well!

Some goodbye thank yous - We have lost some people who have contributed so much to the church - people like Jenny and John Biglands who ran a Home Church for ten years and contributed some great worship (and yes continue to be some of our very best friends), the Parkinsons have moved down south and we so miss the loving pastoral Home Church leadership that they brought along with so much vigour. Richard and Suzanne Shackleton served so faithfully in everything from kids work to marriage prep and marriage courses - we miss them. Jonny & Gill Viner led a home church for quite some years and Jonny served in worship team too. Alongside them others have moved on who maybe served, maybe gave faithfully, but importantly were also just part of our church family. Being, Serving and Giving are all the things that make this church work and allows us to be the kingdom force that we are in this city. So for every person who has moved on we give thanks - we miss them already, and we commit to going again and welcoming those who are new to our family that they would feel so welcome as they journey with us all in Being With Jesus, Becoming Like Jesus and Doing Like Jesus. Let’s continued to be open handed with all those God calls on and open arms to all this God calls in.


 1 2 3 >  Last ›