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16 March 2018

Accessible Sunday services

Ben Thomas photo Ben Thomas Director of Operations
East - girl 2 lunch

I don’t know how our journey into accessible church has been for you, but for me there’s no going back.

It’s been nearly two years now since we started exploring how to make our Sunday gatherings consistently more accessible to everyone – authentic church but with the barriers as low as possible so everyone can understand and access what is going on.

We long to be a place where people from every age, stage, nationality and social background can join in our Sunday gatherings and understand what is going on.

This isn’t as simple as running evangelistic services every Sunday, nor is it about just considering what visitors need when they come to church.

The vision for accessible church is about being a church family which is real with each other, but reducing the jargon, assuming less, using more stories, and making the connection between the gospel and today’s world as clear and as strong as we possibly can.

How is it going? We’ve been delighted with the response so far! We enjoy hearing the stories of how people are inviting their friends and how surprised they’ve been with what they’ve experienced.

When we reflected on all this – alongside our desire to see more people come to know Jesus on the east of Southampton – it became clear that a missional, open, and accessible Sunday gathering should be part of our plans.

Watch this next video to hear John and Paul explain more about this:

Why are we including an accessible Sunday service as part of our plans in the East? First, it’s because we’re keen to try a breadth of activity to help us understand whether this is where God is taking us in the longer term.

Second, there are some specific reasons why we feel God is calling us to this:

  • Doing Sunday service on a smaller scale gives us greater flexibility with the feel of the service and for deepening community.
  • Barna Research highlighted that Sunday Church was the second most important factor in people coming to faith, second only to growing up in a Christian family.
  • At the core of who we are as a church are key values and priorities, like corporate worship, biblical preaching and meeting together.
  • A Sunday gathering gives us a focal point and visible presence in the local community.
  • A gathering like this is a focal point for those on the east, which will help us practically come together, pray together, and be sent out.
  • It gives us a somewhere local and visible to bring people we are reaching through the local initiatives we are doing on the east.

But this is all big challenge. There will be costs involved on all sides – financially and in the time that it takes to run a Sunday service especially in a temporary venue. But our conviction is that this is an important first step.

If you want to see when the Sunday gatherings will be take a look at our Above Bar Church | East page and get connected with the community on Facebook or over email.

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