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16 May 2016

Southampton’s best kept secret?

John Risbridger (LT pics 2016) John Risbridger Minister
Front of church on street

The truth is that it’s too easy for people hurrying down Above Bar Street towards West Quay to barely register that they have walked past our church building. They may not even know it’s there at all!

Of course, at certain times in the week, smiling people from First Impressions or another ministry team are there to greet them, and that makes a huge difference. However, most of the time, even passers-by who briefly notice the striking colour of our lamppost banners see nothing through the glass doors but a short, unlit corridor and a lift.

Put yourself in their shoes

It’s worth putting ourselves in their shoes. Imagine the courage it takes, as someone with no church background, to walk through the doors, venture up the stairs, and see what’s happening inside.

My experience is that when people take that step, they are usually quite amazed by what they find. They are struck by both the scope of the building and, even more, the vibrant authenticity of the community that gathers here.

But do we want to be Southampton’s best kept secret? Is that what we are called to be? Does that help or hinder our mission at the heart of our city? This is the challenge we are addressing through Phase 2 of our Refresh project.

Lounge wall design

Still a long way to go

The Leadership Team is so grateful for the generous support of the church family for Refresh Phase 1 – in giving, prayer, and practical support, and in good grace and patience while the building work was happening. We’re all delighted with the result and are really enjoying the way the lounge blesses weekday ministries and enhances our welcome and sense of community on Sundays.

Lounge (slant)

The lounge was just the beginning, though; we still have a long way to go in refreshing our building and making it fit for purpose in today’s world. So I’m very excited that thinking about Phase 2 is now underway, and grateful to Steve Williams for spearheading the project on behalf of the Leadership Team.

Making a statement

Phase two will have great benefits for those of us who use the building. There will be new windows, more consistent heating and lighting, and an improved entrance for us all. But the real vision we’re pursuing is that our building would make a powerful statement on our city’s main street.

We long for the people of Southampton to see that the church of Jesus Christ is here.

We long for the people of Southampton to know that the church is alive and well, and cares, not just about itself, but about the life of the city.

We long for the people of Southampton to know that we’d love to welcome them and share with them the good news of Jesus that has changed our lives.

How we achieve that remains a challenge. But that is the goal we want the whole church to embrace and to pray towards.

We all know that the Church is not the building; it’s the people, the community. Still, buildings are important, both as a resource for the church’s ministry and as statement to the city.

We want our building to make the right statement to our city: not that we are Southampton’s best kept secret, but that we love our city and want to share the best news in the universe with its people.

Read more about how to support Refresh »

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1 comment

Joan Newman on June 10, 2016

“Is there anything we can do to stop the ‘traders’ and their stalls from being in the front of the Church on weekdays?”

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