The Point Church

Monday, 10 March, 2014

Jules Middleton, Pastoral Assistant at The Point Church, Burgess Hill, tells how it is re-evaluating its role as a fresh expression.

We are at a very interesting stage in the life of The Point because we have been looking again at our vision for the church and really seeking God as to what we do and how we do it.

The church started in 2004 when our vicar, Will Kemp, and his family moved from London and a group of people started meeting in their home. The then Bishop of Horsham, Lindsay Urwin, offered great encouragement and support at a time when the Church of England was really starting to think quite seriously about church planting and 'fresh expressions'.

Bishop Lindsay initially also helped to guide our thinking about the BMO process. This was finalised about 18months ago but it certainly took a lot of time and effort to get it right! It's a five-year Bishop's Mission Order but, if all goes well, we would expect it to be automatically renewed at the end of that period.

The Point - crossIn the early days of The Point, it was very much 'café church' and low key in its style, focusing mainly on families and young children. What happened over the years was that a lot of what we were seen to be doing focused on a Sunday morning gathering with modern, contemporary worship. The result was as more and more people came, we struggled to maintain our original vision to reach the unchurched, and the majority of those we were reaching were 'de-churched' and some transferring from other churches.

It was time for us to review what had gone before and look ahead to something new by asking 'what have we got now?' and 'what are we going to do next?'. To do this, we went through a twelve month vision process in 2012/13 which included a whole church questionnaire, a prayer week and input from members of the church.

I also started ministry training in September 2013 at the South East Institute of Theological Education (SEITE) and this, in conjunction with the vision process, has really fed into my role as Pastoral Assistant at The Point, particularly in the area of exploring how we can be more intentionally missional in our approach.

As part of finding more ways to reach people who wouldn't set foot across the threshold of the church, we now run 'Church in a Pub' which meets every quarter at The Woolpack in Burgess Hill.

The Point - pubIt started in July last year at the invitation of the landlord who was really keen for The Woolpack to be seen as a community pub. We had over 50 people come to that first session. It's all very informal and we have a Church in a Pub team to coordinate the interviews or testimonies, songs from a small worship band and a thought for the day. It's early days but response has been very positive so far and we're looking at whether it could go into different places or roll out to other pubs in the area.

One of our existing projects is 'The Sanctuary'. It's much more than a parent and toddlers group, it's a place where a mum with pre-school kids can come and be 'pampered' a little. They can relax, have a chat, maybe have a hand massage, that type of thing - and a few dads enjoy coming along too!

The Sanctuary meets on Monday mornings in term-time at Hurstpierpoint Village Centre and it aims to be a really welcoming place to build friendships and community in that area. We are really excited about something growing from that, for those who might want to explore faith issues because people would find it a very big leap to go from The Sanctuary into what we would recognise as a church setting. There are some really interesting conversations going on at the moment about how that might happen and we look forward to seeing it become a reality.

The Point - treeAll in all, it feels like a very exciting time at The Point because we have regained our focus as to what and who we're doing it for! We want to be a transforming presence throughout mid Sussex and part of that involves pioneering authentic communities of Christians to reach out to those around them. We've been thinking a lot about context in recent months and being relevant to that context is vital – though it does throw up some challenges.

The vision process helped many of us to realise that we needed to be doing something different for the Kingdom but we reach about 300 people in the Sunday morning gathering at St Paul's Catholic College, Burgess Hill, and we have to ask if we will alienate many of those by taking a new direction? How do we release something new? How do we remain true to what God wants of us and help others to catch that vision too?

They're not easy questions to answer and much of it will only become clearer as time goes by. For now, we are looking to God to help us in this fresh expression as we reimagine what it means to be church in today's world.

Updates to, and learning points from, this story

Monday, 22 September, 2014 On Demand clip

Jules Middleton updates the story of The Point Church in Burgess Hill and their new Church in a Pub.


I am probably being naive here, but if you have 300 people involved in your Sunday gathering surely they can resource other missional activities as well as that gathering? Is that not part of the process of being church themselves?

Hi BlackPhi

That's exactly what we're hoping! But the thing is, we want to be a church that is led by its people as well as the leadership (and God of course!) we don't want to dictate from the top down: 'this is what our plan is for mission'. More, we want to encourage people to step into areas they have a heart for, that God is calling them in to. That way we aim to resource, empower and encourage people to step into these areas that God has given them a passion for.
At the same time, we don't want to take away from what God is clearly doing through the Sunday morning service - it's a balance that we need to get right.

Thanks for your input :)

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