Monks Road Threshold

Friday, 30 April, 2010

Threshold - StreetWhen Carl and Sarah Belcher arrived in Lincoln after working for Eden in Salford, they spent six months praying and slowly realised God was calling them to work with vulnerable people in a needy area of the cathedral city. Soon a fresh expression of church was emerging.

The Monks Road district of Lincoln is very diverse with a mix of young professionals, older people who have lived in the area for years, newcomers from Eastern Europe and those who live there because the housing is affordable. Crime levels are high and indices of deprivation place it in the lowest 5%, making it one of the most challenging areas in the county.

Threshold - flatsSarah and Carl realised there were established churches in the area and had no plans to start another, but by what Carl calls a 'happy accident' they began to meet with needy people who were struggling to engage with church as it is and had no background in the Christian faith at all.

According to Carl it is not easy to start a church, but neither is it complicated.

For us it has always been about making friends really, and asking what can we do to help on a very real and practical and relational level

he explained.

And from there, as people got on well with us, it was a matter of introducing them step by step to how God can impact their lives and make a difference as they became part of the Christian community here.

Threshold - YMCAThis fresh expression of church places a high level of importance on helping people in practical ways with housing, employment and life-style difficulties, without being judgemental. Carl and Sarah are 'tent-makers', leading the congregation but doing some paid work too.

The Threshold Monks Road congregation meets in small 'life groups' during the week and at a local YMCA centre on Sundays. Sarah says worship can sometimes be a bit chaotic, food is an important part of any gathering, and birthdays are always celebrated. And there is a refreshing degree of honesty and openness in all that happens. The small team that works with them is invaluable too.

Threshold - RichardRichard, who is in his twenties, says he is a different person, after having stumbled across Threshold in a local park. He has found faith and God has made a real difference to his life.

I have become happier, more cheerful, grown more in confidence and learnt to express myself a lot more,

he said.

Threshold - ChristineChristine was homeless and widowed and life was very difficult. Then she heard about the new church and went along. She was baptised and said her life has been transformed. Life still isn't straightforward but her addiction problems are much less severe and she no longer goes out 'looking for fights'.

The congregation is steadily growing, as are individual members, but as Sarah explained, it is not easy being a church leader, however much they love and enjoy it, and living in an area like Monks Road. Carl and Sarah are also kept busy caring for their young twins.

A personal cost is part of starting a fresh expression. With anything God asks you to do, there is often a flip side to it. For family, for marriage, for things you often hope for or dream of, yes, there is a cost. But it's so worth it to see other people coming to know God,

she said.Threshold - bus stop

And Sarah is very honest about the importance of setting a good example:

All the time we are conscious that we need to model the fact that God comes first, family second and church third. But trying to get that balance is very interesting!,

she added.

Updates to, and learning points from, this story

Saturday, 1 May, 2010 On Demand clip

Sarah and Carl Belcher share the story of Threshold Monks Road, a fresh expression in a needy area of Lincoln.