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9 March 2020

Newcomers' courses

Chris Webb 2019 Chris Webb Minister
Newcomers 2020 - group eating

Above Bar Church is an extraordinary church to belong to. This Sunday evening I sat in a row of about 10 people, where I was by far the longest attendee at the church. I have been here 6 months!

Some in my row were attending for the first time or had been fewer than five times. Every Sunday, people come in for the first time either having been invited by a friend, or simply curious about the building in the heart of the town centre which says “Church” on the sign, but doesn’t look like a church.

Then there are Christians who have moved into Southampton, often for work, or sometimes to retire, and are trying out Above Bar Church. Others have left another church in the area and are between churches. A recent Barna survey in America reported that two in five Christians report regularly attending multiple churches. This could also be the case in the UK and at Above Bar Church, where many folk might be comfortable sitting in the balcony for a few months or even years, on and off, while visiting other churches in between.

It is a big challenge to incorporate newcomers into the life of the church and specifically into smaller groups where they have the opportunity to get to know a few people well, be part of New Testament one-another ministry and experience authentic community – one of our key values, and essential for true discipleship.

What are newcomers' courses?

Newcomers’ courses run at least termly. They are aimed at Christians who want to get involved in the church more and join a homegroup. The four studies, undertaken after a meal, highlight the values of the church, its ministries, its culture and its doctrinal position. The participants are often from quite an eclectic group. But the course has been helpful to many as a first step towards integrating.

I would like us to be able to cut down some of the administration and run a Bible study each week to which newcomers can come – without having to wait for the next course to start up and then be allocated to a homegroup.

I wonder, would you be willing to help in such a group? Would you help facilitate the integration of the fringe and people longing for community? Or would you be willing to run a newcomers’ course? I would like to start the next one in the last week of April. It involves opening your home for four consecutive weeks. It functions well if there can be a host and a leader working together.

This Sunday evening as I sat in my row full of newcomers I was challenged by the text Paul Webber was preaching on.

“When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practise hospitality.” (Romans 12:13)

If you are challenged to and able to serve in any of these ways please contact me: chriswebb@abovebarchurch.org.uk

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