I absolutely love being a part of Above Bar. Our church is a real family to me, a community where Jesus is central, the Bible is taught and people matter. God is at work, challenging us to go deeper in following Jesus and blessing the world for his sake.
What a journey we’re on: new people following Jesus; a new focus on mission; a new vision for discipleship. It’s very exciting. But as our vision grows, so do the challenges. There comes a point where we must face them.
Someone was working in our home recently. I invited him to visit our church. His response troubled me: ‘To be honest,’ he said, ‘whenever I go past, it looks dead and closed up, as if nothing’s going on. And if I came, I’d be afraid people wouldn’t welcome or accept me.’
If people on Above Bar Street have that impression, how can we be effective in reaching Southampton?
It’s crucial that our building reflects our vision to be a vibrant, welcoming community of people following Jesus who are eager to bless our city in his name.
Words and actions
Blessing our city means words and actions going hand-in-hand.
We’re doing this with the hungry, the homeless, with families and older people. But we could do more: it needs someone to support volunteers and develop their work.
We could go further by working with Christians Against Poverty, which helps 11,000 families escape from debt every year. Many of them become Christians. But in Southampton, the waiting list is always full and people are constantly turned away. Meeting these challenges – alongside developing Bible teaching, family ministry and global mission - means stepping up our praying, our serving and our giving. The whole Leadership Team is convinced that the time to make that step change is now.
Imagine . . .
Imagine our church helping more and more of Southampton’s most vulnerable people to discover hope, love and faith.
Imagine our church helping families break free from debt and discover the generous grace of our Lord Jesus.
Imagine our building transformed into a highly visible hub of welcome and mission at the heart of our city, so that no one could walk down Above Bar Street and not know that the church of Jesus Christ is alive, vibrant and making a real difference here.
The deepest challenge
Can it happen? Yes – if we will pray.
The deepest challenge is spiritual: to humble ourselves before God, to seek his face in repentance, to seek his Spirit’s power and to throw our lives wide open to him so that we are ready to give our time, our gifts and our money sacrificially to make the vision a reality.
Some of us can give much; others can give little, but it’s our hearts that God is interested in, and what we hold back.
This won’t be easy, but those who sow in tears will reap with joy. I long for our church to have a share in that harvest, for the glory of Jesus.
We believe this is the right time for a step change; and we are inviting you to join us on the journey.
John Risbridger, Minister