Monday, 13 September, 2010

X-Site - Louise WellerChurch Army New Zealand runs a successful bus ministry called Canterbury Kids Coach. Captain Louise Weller tells how a new Christian community, X-Site, has developed to work alongside the mobile ministry to reach families in Rowley, a needy suburb of Christchurch.

We began three years ago, running a children's after school programme on board our Canterbury Kids Coach.

Every six months we move to three more locations. Two years ago, we were given the use of a community house so that we could encourage children who had been on our programme to be involved in something more permanent, and provide support and ongoing discipleship. We call this 'X-Site'.

Parents started coming along to 'X-Site' as well and this has now grown to an average attendance of about 30 children and 9 adults each week. We have not 'arrived' yet but we are well on the way.

X-Site - pancakesThe X-Site weekly sessions are from 3pm-5pm every Friday and follow a similar pattern each week. Leaders and other adults from the community arrive from 2.15pm and we stop to pray at 2.45pm. The children arrive from the nearby local school and are given a drink and games to play and we sit around and chat.

At 3.30pm we start our session proper with singing, prayer and a Bible reading. The children themselves lead the prayer and Bible reading while parents are all encouraged to be involved. We then have one of our puppets introduce the theme for the day and then the mums with children of preschool age leave for their own special programme while the others have their separate teaching time. We use lots of different creative ways to encourage the development of faith, including mime, drama, crafts, games with purpose, teaching of puppetry and even learning how to play the ukulele! We usually follow a theme that lasts for 10 weeks.

X-Site - JesusRefreshments are provided and meals arranged at the end of each term. We carry out visits and follow-up work to help meet material needs and address neglect, truancy and abuse. This is much more than just a bus; it is bringing Church to the people.

Our organisation aims to keep the following values at the heart of all our work:

  • fully rely on God;
  • encourage the development of Christian values: sharing, honesty, responsibility, honouring of relationships, serving others, making wise choices and respect;
  • break down the barriers of isolation and racial disharmony;
  • see where the Holy Spirit is working and join in;
  • remain outward focused - seeing the needs in the community and continually looking to 'take new ground'
  • following the example of Jesus, we seek to love and serve each other, and encourage others to do the same.

X-Site - cheerThree team leaders are members of the local Anglican Church and two are from the nearest Baptist Church; teenagers help as junior leaders. Although we are a Church Army initiative, we also have the support and encouragement of our local parish and some families have now started attending services on Sunday.

Our goal is however, to encourage the local people to find faith in Christ and grow to become leaders of their own community. This is beginning. For those that come, this is Church.

We are a registered charity funded from trusts and donations from individuals. To spread the vision about what we’re doing we undertake speaking engagements, networking and sharing stories of good practice through the media and our own publications. We understand the value of working together with other organisations, agencies and community groups and work at discovering what is happening in order to encourage one another. It is important to enable people to network together, learn from one another and exercise responsible oversight.

X-Site - smilingWe want to see lives transformed and communities grow. I didn't have an opportunity as a child to hear about Jesus, so I had to struggle alone during my tough teenage years. Consequently I desperately want others to have opportunities to hear about, experience and grow in the love of Jesus, and be equipped to reach their full potential.

It is our hope that parents will take ownership of this and begin to disciple others. With a group of 10 mums, we recently started to organise midweek morning sessions for parents. We hope that these sessions will be a time to focus on being there for these mums and helping them to grow in faith. We are taking things a step at a time, learning as we go, and listening to the needs of the community and to what God is saying. Watch this space!

Updates to, and learning points from, this story

Monday, 28 May, 2012

Captain Louise Weller, of Church Army New Zealand, tells how the X-site community continues to develop in the wake of natural disaster.