Life Church - Jun14

Monday, 9 June, 2014

Susan Sadler updates the story of Life Church, Newton Aycliffe.

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Susan Sadler: Life Church started just over a year ago; we'd been meeting in people's homes just prior to that and we realised that it was going from a group to a church. And it was a bit of a strange feeling - we're all equipped by God; he never gives us anything that's too much for us I don't believe, he might stretch us a bit – but it was a bit of a challenge in time because who am I to be a church leader? But, looking around, there was no other so you just have to step into that role and be confident that God will provide all that you need.

So it was about three months in that we knew we'd become a church, when the numbers did grow significantly. People from all over the community came with loads and loads of problems; there were gang leaders and kids that were expelled from school and the whole shebang - it went off, but you know we kind of went through that rocky time and there's a lot of, so much stability now within the church. People have grown. We've not just grown numerically but also spiritually as well. We've seen 11 people baptised as well, recently, and I know for instance this year we'll probably see twice as many as that. So we are so delighted about what God has done through the work of Life Church.

We sensed community very early on when people would come with their family and friends and join, very simply, over a cup of tea and they just wanted to keep coming back to learn a little bit more about Jesus. We're absolutely delighted to be able to take almost 100 people on holiday this year; the majority of those have never been on holiday at all. Lots of people are going through trials and it's a time really to explore more about who they are and more about the goodness of God. And that's amazing for us to be able to do that.

Most people don't have any church background at all. In fact, in the last year we've seen our numbers go from eight to nearly 100 and the majority of them people have never actually walked into a church before which is good for us because we didn't want a church that people came from other churches just to experience something new.

We do church very different. We invite people in, we do our highs and our lows, we sing happy birthday to people if they've got a birthday coming up, and we just want to know what's happened to people through the week. And so therefore within that it's kind of natural to them. They want to share their experiences, we call it our highs and lows because we want to celebrate with people that have had a really good time through the week and the law is not only to pray about it but to do something about it where we can. We just don't want to be hearers; we want to be doers of the Word.

We have the Job Clubs; we have the CAP money and a few other projects. We also work with the Food Bank and we also have our own charity called Lifeline Community Action where we serve the community. This year we've served over 2,500 people to be able to help them in their hour of need. And in the next 12 months we want to expand that to be able to meet them and to be able to help them in their struggles.

Susan speaking to a client: So Andrea, we'll just take some details from you; just very basic information like your name, your address, why you've got into the difficulties that you're facing at the moment and what happens then is we just take this information and then we apply for a small grant...

Female voice: About a year ago we were CAP clients - and that's where we got invited to Life Church where we became Christians and that was the best thing that’s happened to us.

Male voice: We now run a CAP money course where my wife's the manager and I'm a coach, and we do leadership within the church now as well and we just have a massive yearning for God, especially wanting to help people that have been through what we've been through and get them to where we are now. It's amazing.

Susan Sadler: People don't to want to just maybe meet once a fortnight or once a month, they like to meet on a regular basis; to know that it's there for them. And so from the very beginning we've been very intentional about our discipleship programme. And again it's meeting people where they're at. So we'll do things like journeys or Alpha Express but even the Alpha Express we'll break down to where they're at to make it more understandable for them. And so every single week, when we're meeting together, we have something that will help them with their Christian journey.

Alwyn White: Most of the teaching is well grounded and we tend to use materials that have been proven in the past and certainly we're going to begin using Freedom in Christ because of the very nature of that course. We've dealt with some of the issues before with some of our people but, because church is growing, we need to tackle them again with new people. And we tend to do our discipleship within the church setting anyway, within small groups; we have the teaching then separate out into groups, which makes it easier for people to throw in their comments too and to have an opinion.

Female voice 2: I lost my son two year ago in May. Before I started Life Church, my life was spent in bed all the time, crying, wanting to be with him. I had no life at all. Life Church has given me my life back, I'm out and about, I'm helping at Life Church the way they've helped me. I didn't have any faith, I didn't believe in God, I thought I was evil, that he was punishing us. Once my son died, there was no God at all, there was nothing. And now he's done everything for me, he's given me my life back.

Female voice 3: My son William, he hung himself on the 3rd of December and I didn't know where to go to; didn't know where to turn to. And then I got Susan's number, and then we contacted and we've been in contact ever since. She helped us with the service and the funeral and everything; she did a fantastic job on that. If you need Susan she's the one to talk to, she's brilliant. We would be lost without her.

Susan Sadler: One thing that people have told us you know is that they really struggle with doing church and we know that this actually works. We've had like a year of it now. Yes, there have been difficult times and we'd be lying if we said there wasn't but there have been tremendous times also, seeing so many things. We'd like to be able to use what God has given us this time, this year, to be able to share with other churches about how it can be transferred really into other communities. So if any churches out there would like us to talk to them about the miracles that God has done over the year - and also the little bit about how we can do the fund-raising and how we can distribute those resources, we're more than happy for either myself or one of our team to come and do that. We would love to be able to see more churches like this across the country and, if we can help, we will.

I would say to anyone that actually feels nervous about starting something like this is, 'Take the risk, what have you go to lose? Just go for it; trust him in all of it.' Say, 'Lord, create the space for us Lord' and just move into that and to get people around you praying for you. That's the key isn't it – the prayer. And to get people praying. Bring people in and do things that you believe in; just simple prayer, simple worship and have that time of, like, a fellowship. And have a go. But the biggest thing about failure is not having a go, it's like the years go by. It's just doing it now. The Lord's here, he will lead us through, he has never let us down and I know for a fact he is taking us into even greater things.

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