There is a great deal going on in the life of Above Bar Church at present with the launch of Refresh, which is developing both ongoing ministries and making our building more suitable for those ministries. This page is where to find answers to your questions.
1. What is Refresh?
The Refresh project is about moving forward in our vision to share the blessing God has given us, both locally and globally. It includes new developments in our city-centre ministry, funding for new Sent Mission Partners (SMP) and a significant redevelopment of our building.
For more information, go to the Refresh homepage.
2. What are the city-centre ministries that will be developed, and why?
- The provision of a full-time head of youth work to lead the teams working with our young people after Dan Simpkins leaves this summer.
For more information, see Aaron Griffin’s blog post about the youth work.
- The opening of a Christians Against Poverty (CAP) Debt Centre. While personal and family debt is a huge problem in today’s society, there is no CAP debt centre in the centre or west of our city, and the two existing centres (both in the eastern side of Southampton) have full waiting lists and are turning people away. CAP enables many of its clients to become debt free and a significant number become Christians.
For more information, see James Marshall’s blog post about the appointment of a centre manager.
- The appointment of a part time Social Action Coordinator to support the volunteers in our various social action ministries, increase the interaction between them, and develop their impact for the future.
3. Who will the new Sent Mission Partners be?
The Mission Personnel Support Group (MPSG) is in conversation with a couple about becoming SMPs, but their appointment is yet to be brought to a church members' meeting. However, our vision is to add new SMPs each year for the next five years, and so we need to make provision for this in our budget.
4. What are the aims of redeveloping the building? Is it really right to invest so much in ‘bricks and mortar’?
The basic aim is to look after our building and bring it in line with our vision. It is now over 30 years old and has had very little spent on it during its lifetime – but we are responsible to keep it in good order. This requires on-going investment and, from time to time, significant one-off sums (for example, on the lift or the roof).
The building is also very out of date in its style and decoration. It needs bringing in line with our church’s vision to be a contemporary and welcoming community. Over recent years we have explored schemes to improve our access and visibility on the high street. Some of these schemes have been very ambitious – and costly. So we have come to the conclusion that the more modest plans which are part of Refresh represent good stewardship in seeking to achieve our goals.
For more information, see Jonathan Beer’s blog post about the building plans.
5. As Christians should we really be involved in social action? Isn’t our task simply to proclaim the gospel?
There is really nothing new here. For years we have tried to express the love of Christ in practical ways, which commend the gospel we are committed to proclaiming. Poppin, SAFE courses and CAMEO are all obvious examples. There is, perhaps, a new emphasis on reaching those in our society who are poorer and more vulnerable – just as Jesus did, rather conspicuously, himself (see, for example, Luke 4:18–19; Luke 5:12–26; Luke 7:22; Luke 11:41; Luke 14:21; Mark 10:21).
The blessing that God gives to us to share with the nations (Genesis 12:2–3) is a blessing that touches every area of life (see, for example, Genesis 39:1–6). We are therefore committed to witnessing to Jesus Christ both in words of gospel truth and in actions of gospel love.
See also Ruth Norbury’s blog post about Tim Keller’s book Generous Justice.
6. How can I pray for Refresh?
Most weeks we produce an update (available via the website newsroom, via email and as a paper copy on a Sunday) on some aspect of the work, which includes pointers for prayer.
For more information praying for Refresh, see the prayer page.
7. How much do we need to raise for Refresh?
- The refurbishment of the building is estimated to cost up to £1.4 million over the next few years.
- The development of our ministries requires an increase in annual giving of about £70,000 (about £6,000 per month).
We are very aware that this is challenging and will require sacrificial giving on the part of many in our church, but we believe the Lord has led us to this point and that he is able to provide through his people.
8. How do I give financially to Refresh?
Refresh needs two kinds of giving and we ask you to consider both of these:
- On-going giving to finance the new ministries
- Specified giving for the building development
For details of how to give, see Ways to Give.