New Song Network - Apr14

Monday, 14 April, 2014

Jackie Bellfield updates the story of New Song Network in Warrington, a ministry of many parts.

Duration: 9:37   | Download Download video (flv) | Download Download video (wmv) | View on YouTube

Transcript

Jackie Bellfield: Five years ago, the Methodist Circuit here in Warrington had a multiplex act of worship – that's where many different forms of worship takes place in the same venue. At that venue we decided to do a café-style worship; two of us got together and led that. And the capacity of the coffee shop is 40; and when 65 people started to try to get in to that room, we realised there was something special about this. So it was something about seeing the need of people, of them wanting to try something different and that alternative act of worship happened five years ago.

What we found was that people were coming to New Song Café that had no other church 'home' to go to. They came along and we had that responsibility to nurture them, to care for them and to love them and people were hungry to know more about God, more about discipleship, more how to grow in the faith and so, alongside New Song Café, we started something called Discipleship. And that takes place on the second Sunday night as opposed to the fourth Sunday night for café – and people come in there for some in-depth teaching, worship and, of course, the cake which we tend to have whatever we do! They came along for that.

And then we started doing other things too. We've started a hot drinks ministry at the local crematorium; we've started a community action team of going out and doing good deeds in the community. And then we started New Song Breakfast and people started dipping in to each of those – depending on their availability, when they took place and also the comfort of how they felt about going to things like this.

We also started some social events, a walking group we've started, quiz nights, evening meals together, all places that people could dip in and out as per their comfort and also bring friends along too. And then this idea of Network materialised, so New Song Network is the overarching theme of what we're doing with different constituents within it and now, five years on, 170 people come to New Song Café. Along with those are many who dip into the Network, who go to the walking group, so we're reaching 300-plus people through New Song Network.

And what has surprised us is the strength of people's passion for wanting to be engaged with it. This has become their church, therefore it's a brand new church, it's a brand new congregation and that is so exciting. It exceeds all that we could possibly have imagined and the moves are that it is growing more and more. We have a strategy for growth; we want to double our numbers and that is how it's going.

Female voice: I don't generally come to Bold Street Church; I'm just a New Song member and come with my sister and with my daughter. A couple of months ago, my daughter had her baptism at New Song which was her choice; she's 14 and she wanted to be baptised into New Song because it was like where she felt she belonged.

Male voice 1: Myself and my wife came to New Song Café, literally the first meeting, and New Song is just coming up to its fifth birthday and five years ago at the start of January – we lost our son at three days of age. We found such a love and fellowship at New Song and a place where we could come and be ourselves and just feel the love of that community and just a place where there were no rules. It was just come and be who you are and engage with it as you want to.

Male voice 2: I've been involved in leading a lot of different things in various churches and my mum would often come along to various things; she's very involved in church herself. My dad would come along to special events, like what we'd do at Christmas or something, but New Song Café... this is the first time we've had something that he will consistently come along to as well, regularly, month in, month out.

Male voice 3: I started coming to New Song Café a few years ago with my wife Christine 'cos my son, Mark, plays bass guitar in the worship group. I found it to be a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere and have continued to come since.

Female voice: For me, it's a real chance just to be able to worship in an environment where I can lead my own worship and I can be free and easy to express myself and go at my own pace, and just kind of get lost in my own worship of God really.

Jackie Bellfield: The relationship with the New Song Network is a growing relationship with the local Methodist Circuit and also other churches. We couldn't hold any of our activities without the willingness of two what we would class as traditional or inherited churches and we are so grateful to Bold Street Methodist Church, which hosts Café and Latchford Methodist Church which hosts Breakfast and Discipleship. For us, that illustrates the strength of mixed economy, there is no threat; it's not about competition, it's about working collaboratively together.

There are those that don't get it. There are those that, dare I say, don't want to get it. It's new, it's fresh, it hasn't happened before and we are finding our way all the time. Being pioneers means that no-one's gone before; we are almost putting fresh footprints in the sand and we are having to find our way and that's interesting as New Song Network tries to think about becoming a church in its own right. It already is church as far as a community of believers but the governance - and all that - that's involved in a church we're now progressing that. Soon it will be New Song Network Church.

We know all about closing churches; we know verbatim how to go through the process but the process of setting up a brand new church and congregation... sometimes we struggle with that and we're trying to find our way. Some get it; some help us, many question; that's part of what we have to do together, for ourselves and for the Methodist Church to learn about new things that are happening.

Café may quite well work in many contexts and I know that other place have enquired and they're looking at setting up a New Song Café in their own area but how that develops into a Network will be entirely driven by their context, by who they are, by the ages that come to Café, by their style of music. How they do that is going to drive how their Network might develop. But Network is not a stepping stone; we don't expect people to come to our Sunday morning services, for example, though I would like to say that some have started to do that; we haven't invited them – that sounds a bit harsh – but we haven't said, 'O this is a stepping and you must come along to this' but they have desired to do that. But this is a church in its own right; it sits alongside other churches – whether they are of inherited, traditional type or new, emerging congregations. It sits alongside all of them and seeks to resource and re-energise people.

We have a leadership of 14 people from various walks of life, various backgrounds and relationships with the church, and they are part of our leadership. They're the amazing folk; they're the people I am completely in awe of; they're the ones who are passionate about New Song; they're the ones that want to take it forward, who run with ideas, who help it all happen. This isn't about one person; this is about the Spirit of God that's working amongst people's lives and seeing new leaders emerging in the church.

We're now at a stage where we've drafted out five-year strategy for the year ahead and looking at other new things we want to do; for example New Song Kids we're looking at starting up – other things too. We're always looking for fresh and new initiatives but without a doubt for us it's about the governance, the structure, of how New Song Network is developing, of training new leaders that are coming through, of discipling many people. They are passionate about the Methodist Church, so much so that we've used the four areas of our calling for our governance so all that we do is part of those four areas of our calling (Worship, Learning and Caring, Service, Evangelism). And that for us is really important, that we are a balanced church that's developing not just focused on worship and cake – though that's very important (!) – but the whole thing about evangelism, serving and of course learning and caring together so we do a Bible study in a local coffee shop, we have home groups, we go out and do things in the community, we're looking for missional opportunities to reach out, to tell people the good news of Jesus. That's the growth, that's the exciting bit and we're going to further develop that in the next five years.

I've used the word 'surprised' an awful lot when I've talked about New Song and God continually surprises us; it takes our breath away the opportunities that we have, we take New Song on the road, we will take it out to places and give people an experience of Café, we play at stadium events. We're doing all sorts of things and God just keeps on exceeding our expectations and we are catching up with Him. In essence God's doing the mission and we just want to serve him, follow him with our whole hearts and minds and soul. Where God goes, we follow. And that's the exciting bit, it takes our breath away and that's exciting too.

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Comments

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