Springfield Church - update Oct12

Monday, 8 October, 2012

Will Cookson and Sue Bosley of Springfield Church, Wallington, talk about multiplication not duplication in fresh expressions.

Duration: 6:45   | Download Download video (flv) | Download Download video (wmv) | View on YouTube


Will Cookson: Springfield itself has existed for about twenty years. It was great in fact to celebrate our twentieth anniversary in March with Rowan Williams coming which was an enormous privilege.

A few years ago we realised that we'd grown quite a bit as a church plant and looking to review who we were as a fresh expression meant that we started to look at different ways that we could actually reach out into our community. And one of the areas that were were looking at is as we grew, what did we want to achieve through that. So we looked at did we want to have a duplication of the same service, did we want to stay in where we were in a local school or did we want to move out of the school or move part of the church out of the school. And we had a leaders' away day and we were absolutely stymied on every single question we asked. It was a fifty-fifty split across the leadership of the church. And so we left it for a while. We put it on hold and said let's carry on praying, see what God's saying to us. And then a few months later I was approached by a local incumbent, Mother Angela Gbebikan of St Michael's and St Paul's, asking whether we could come in and help in one of their estates called the Roundshaw estate. And it was like the doors had been totally opened to us. They couldn't be more helpful and... assisting us in planting a new congregation into Roundshaw. And they even moved the time of their service to accommodate us. And so we saw that as a really green light from God, being able to plant into a new parish, into a new estate, looking to bring the strengths that we have in children and youth to help extend God's kingdom into that estate.

We then looked to see who we could have as a core team to look at planting into Roundshaw. And we were really blessed by a number of key leaders of the church coming and saying they wanted to be part of it. We started off one of our churchwardens wanted to be part of it, our administrator and actually another member of staff, Sue, who was our children and families minister at the time, said that she'd felt a real sense of God calling her to Roundshaw and so that was a huge answer to prayer.

We have certain values that we hold as a church, but the way that it was going to look on Roundshaw we were totally open to. We didn't think that we should be replicating what we already did in our main congregation. We wanted to see what God was calling that group of people, after prayer and after talking, to instead.

Sue Bosley: I'd been working for Springfield in the area of children and families for a couple of years when I really knew God's prompting to step up and lead this new venture, this new congregation at Springfield. So my role was to build the vision and build the team and our vision was very much based on the underpinning values of Springfield. So the form that the new congregation would take would evolve from that. And during that time we called people to come forward to be part of this new congregation and spent time praying together in our preparation for what was to be on Roundshaw.

So about six months later we launched our café church on Roundshaw and we're delighted that in the first year we doubled our numbers in the congregation. We had more young people, more children and more adults joining us on a Sunday morning. So that was hugely encouraging, we really knew God's blessing in that first year. Then, perhaps in our second year we saw perhaps that reached a plateau and knew that perhaps God was prompting us then to really look at ourselves, renew ourselves as a fresh expression and just discern where God wanted us to serve the local community. What mission and ministries would we grow so that we could reach the people that we'd come to do mission with.

So we've learned so much in the last couple of years about where we are and who the people are that we've come to serve. And one lovely thing is that we have a missional community group that's met each week in the local café just across the road from the church. And through that they've been able to get to know local people that have dropped by, that have felt welcome to come and join the group when they meet. But also we've got to know the café staff and the manager there came to join us for a Christmas table decoration evening last year.

Will Cookson: You reach a point where you have to keep re-looking at what you're doing and why you're doing it. It's very easy to become settled. And a fresh expression I think... I believe to be a fresh expression needs to keep renewing itself, keep learning what it is that keeps it a fresh expression. So for us at Roundshaw, one of the drivers for that recently has been the winning of a bid from the Church of England looking at church planting in estates in this country, a bid that we won along with a church in Brixton and with the support and help of the diocese of Southwark. And it's enabled us to look at a model that we now want to really test out in great detail on Roundshaw.

One thing I would I suppose advise anyone is values can stay consistent across a group of churches or congregations. You can have a set of values that elevate you and help you. But it doesn't mean that what it looks like should be the same. We're very very clear at Springfield that we don't want to replicate what we have in our Wallington Girls congregation in any other congregation that we plant here. We very much want to be able to listen to what's going on, what God's saying to us, and the people that we have, and allow them the freedom to change things and do things differently. And so I'd always say that there's no need to always just say well because it's worked once it must always work. That's never been true and it never will be true. But we have to look and be creative in the way that God is calling us and what he's calling us to.

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