This month Jennie caught up with Josh Cutting from The Way, Sheffield, a new missional expression of church in Sheffield
Many people in Kx will know you and your wife Beth from Form, Rebuild and NCS. It’s great to see you involved in something new, but how did it start?
The way is part of a dream we’ve had for a long time. As a younger Christian I was often dissatisfied with the way church was. I was sure that there was more that God had to give us, but I didn’t know how to access it. I was blessed to have people in my life who were active in discipling me and helping me to grow in my relationship with Jesus.
Before we did anything else, we prayed. A few friends joined us to pray who are now part of our core team. We wanted to honour the investment other leaders have had in our lives so before we started to gather any people, we met with other Church leaders in Sheffield and shared what we were doing. We didn’t want to move Christians around the city from church to church but to focus on people who don’t yet know Jesus.
What does it look like to be part of The Way?
I think most people would look at us and think that doesn’t really look like a church. The Way is just us living our lives in the way we have always done. Our focus is on the depth of relationship with Jesus, being obedient disciples, growing in joyful generosity and raising and releasing discipling leaders. That’s what we do as a family and that what we do in The Way.
It can be frustrating in the waiting, what’s been difficult on the journey?
We started from nothing, we just had the rhythms of sabbath, worship and prayer as a family. God gave us clear instructions: don’t call or invite anyone to join in. So, we waited and prayed for a year with our core team.
Initially it was fine, but as people who are wired for mission there was definitely some frustration. It’s taken time for us to find the balance, we’ve had to keep trusting God, growing in patience, praising and worshiping through the frustration.
We’ve been holding tightly to Lamentations 3: 25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him to the person who seeks him.
What has God been doing at The Way?
After a year of waiting, a few weeks ago on a Monday as we were praying together, we believed God was telling us it was time to open the doors.
The following day we were meeting on our living room, worshipping together and there was a knock at the window. When I opened the door, she asked “Are you a church, can I come in?” She came in and we just continued worshipping together. After, we were able to chat with her and found out that she used to walk with Jesus, hadn’t for a number of years. She had been at our door earlier, knocked, and no one had answered. She had tried to walk away but couldn’t so came back and knocked om the window.
On Wednesday out of the blue I received a message from a guy who had been through an Alpha course with us 3 or 4 years ago but hadn’t made a decision to follow Jesus. We met up for a walk and I told him what we were doing, he asked” Can me and my mum come?’
In the following week we received messages from 15 people, some Christians and some exploring faith who wanted to join. Once a month we meet on a Sunday in the woods with bacon butties, woodland crafts for forest church. We always do food, include the kids and use a bible passage to discuss the gospel and how it impacts our lives.
What’s advice would you give to someone wanting to do something similar?
Keeping the rhythm of prayer is vital. We prayed for a year before anything happened and without prayer nothing happens. The other thing would be having some accountable relationships with people who can support you in this. We connected with a couple who were doing something similar who’ve been able to guide us, encourage and challenge us along the journey.
As part of the wider Kx family how can we support you?
Pray that we would be a blessing the city and the other churches in Sheffield
We are not taking an income and we want to use the income we have to bless those around us. Please pray for our business and that we would be wise with the decisions we make.
If you’d like support Josh and Beth in their business, follow them on Instagram @perringoosepress
This month we caught up with one of the communities on the South Coast to find out how God has been using times of difficulty to bring breakthrough…
I guess this a story of a “Holy Spirit set up” and an example of just being aware of what God is doing and joining in with it.
It began back in the summer of 2016 when my husband began cold water swimming in the sea and I followed suit a year later. It turned out that there was a bit of a community going on down on the beach , and over time we became part of its growing number.
Looking back I can see how we were naturally getting involved in “rhythms” of life; birthdays were celebrated (many on the beach), stories and meals were shared, carol “services” at our house and so on. Over time conversations were naturally becoming more supernatural – people were genuinely interested in our faith and it would come up regularly as we talked.
One of the swimmers (a doctor) hosted two sessions – one on the “health benefits of cold-water swimming” and later on “what is healthy diet?” – both were well attended. Off the back of that we offered to share our story about spiritual wellbeing using Alpha as a vehicle – it was the longest Alpha ever in that it spanned about six months so we could flex to the 10 not-yet-believers’ availability.
It was hard-going – in fact I told them (jokingly) that at times I had felt at times like a “Christian punch bag”. When Alpha finished (September last year) we handed it all to God and our friendships carried on as before. I needed time to just “be” as it had taken a lot out of me.
This year has been memorable for all, and not least on the beach; two beach ladies lost their husbands very suddenly, and of course, stories of loss and struggle were plentiful. Initially the total lockdown had us all dispersed but in the summer months the beach was a-buzzing more than ever.
Fast forward to August when a Christian friend (not from our church) called me out of the blue and asked where I was up to with God and why wasn’t I doing anything about my calling. After praying on the beach with my husband and another Christian swimmer friend, that Sunday we held what I loosely refer to as a “service”, working out of a generously loaned beach hut. That was the first of several meetings where we share a bible-based thought for the day, talking it through with coffee and croissants , offering prayer, sharing stories… There are about 20 folk, although we don’t come all at once.
God has blessed us richly at these gatherings and beyond. One of the ladies from last year’s Alpha has joined us on two occasions, listening respectfully and saying she enjoyed it (praise God) and one of the widows mentioned earlier is a regular and is “beginning her journey”. One week we had a focus on “holding onto hurts” and one guy went on to make peace with two people for whom he’d harboured resentment for several years, sharing with them about God. I could go on…
Let me just say it’s been a season of breakthrough, surprises and miracles. There is really potential for growth and for God to do so much, which is both exciting and challenging. Please pray for us as we navigate the challenges of Covid-19 restrictions, the winter weather drawing in and finding others to lead with us. And lastly, even if you don’t know them, please pray for the people God wants to reach.
As part of the Kairos Connexion network, we have missional communities spread across the UK. Every month, we aim to share a story from one of our network churches.
It’s wonderful to hear what is going on around the country!
This month’s story comes from Blacon near Chester. They have two missional communities and a thriving kids club being run by the team there.
They recently multiplied Blacon central into two missional communities. Here is a quick update from one of their leaders, Ed Green.
‘Here in Blacon, we have two thriving missional communities.
In the original ‘Blacon Central’ missional community, we are currently reshaping what we are doing specifically focussed around the children and families who attend Shout Kids Club. The children are mostly from the school where our own children attend.
Shout kids club, is run by one of the core team. She runs a team in partnership with another church and it’s going really well! It has grown to over 30 children and right now we feel that we wanted to connect more with the families. Some of them we already know well and have good connections through school.
With this in mind, we recently invited families to come to our house for lunch and to hear from their kids about what they have been learning about Jesus, it was a bit of a squeeze – but we had a great time!
We then invited them to join us every month for lunch and to know more about Jesus – wonderful.
The second Missional community is called ‘Open House’ and has a group of families meeting regularly and focusing their energy towards the school where their children attend at the top end of their estate. Life is busy, and we have seen the need to incorporate missional living with our everyday lives involving our children and their school communities.
We feel that we are on the brink of something very exciting in Blacon, we have seen people come to faith, be baptised and continue to grow as followers of Jesus.
We are hoping and praying that this will grow and we will see more and more people choose to follow Jesus and as a result have many more missional communities develop – watch this space!
Pray with us that we can continue to see where God is leading us, and seek his wisdom as we expand.
“If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise”… particularly if you happen to be venturing out on a Sunday afternoon into the woodlands between Bidborough and Southborough!
One church which is part of our Kent Hub has shaping their missional community by starting a Forest Church!
Clare Masters shares her story, here.
In November 2018 we began a new monthly “Forest Church” service on Sunday afternoons, alternating between the two churches in our parish, St Lawrence’s Bidborough and St Peter’s Southborough. The significant difference to our regular services is that most of Forest Church happens outdoors!
We begin in church with a short time of praise and worship, lasting about 15 minutes, and then everyone tumbles outside into the fresh air for adventures in God’s wonderful world.
Forest Church is open to all ages, but seeks to give a special welcome to families, as we know that Sunday morning diaries are often problematic, especially for those with children involved in sports. (My own three children are grown up now, but Sunday morning football matches have been a complication for us for many years.)
But 2018 saw a steady stream of families bringing their children for baptism, which led to many conversations about the difficulties of getting to church regularly on Sunday mornings. And as we prayed for these families taking first steps along the journey of faith, the idea of Forest Church began to grow.
Rural ministry may bring challenges, but there are also special advantages. We may not have spectacular premises, but our premises are set in spectacular surroundings, a real gift from God!
Around 40 – 50 people have been coming each month. The “service” component of our Forest Church is intentionally very simple, but we include a worship song (often sung unaccompanied), some confessional liturgy, Bible reading, short talk with lots of “audience participation” and interactive prayers. Although it’s only brief, it’s a significant opportunity to tell the good story of God’s love to a new cohort of families. And then we head outside for fun and fellowship.
We’ve done different activities each month, with a mix of action and creative options to suit various ages and energies. November involved a fire bowl set up in the churchyard, cooking breadsticks and marshmallows on whittled sticks, making a giant hedgehog collage on the ground from twigs and different leaves, and finishing with sparklers and prayers in a big circle.
In December (early Advent) we focused on Joseph the Carpenter and the surprises that unfolded for him. We went on a woodland walk imagining the journey to Bethlehem, stopping en route to create mud portraits of Mary and Joseph on tree trunks, played “hunt the donkey”, and also enjoyed a cake break in the woods and a mad game of passing a rugby ball round a circle of leaping children. In January, being Epiphany season, we thought about the wise men bringing treasures, and Jesus being the best treasure; and the activities included a challenging team treasure hunt (with chocolate prizes) and making winter bouquets from twigs and berries, to give to someone you treasure.
What has been particularly wonderful has been the help we have received from some of the families who have come along. Two of the families have enthusiastically taken on organising the crafts and refreshments. Forest Church has also strengthened links with three of our local farming families (who we already knew through our toddler group and the primary school), and they have invited Forest Church to celebrate on their farms!
In May we went to Four Winds Farm, a local sheep farm (Theme – the Lost Sheep!); in October we held our Harvest celebrations at Juddwood Farm; and we’ve been invited back to Four Winds for our nativity service this December.
God is very good.
If you have a story to share of what missional living, and church life looks for you, do send it through to us to email@example.com .
One of our Missional Communities is full of families who love to hang out, feast together and encourage each other in their parenting.
We are a real mix of people and ages and we love being an extended family to each other. Recently, in a number of discussions the area of helping raise children who understand the importance of ‘looking after God’s world’ and being a bright positive light for Jesus in our neighbourhoods was raised.
The children in the group seem to grasp this instinctively whilst us adults seem to always find the challenges in this. So we decided to get out and do something really practical- litter picking the neighbourhood around our church building.
We have been litter picking a couple of times now and we have had some really interesting moments. Firstly it has been brilliant for us as a community to be out together serving in such a practical way.
We have had some giggles and the kids have loved dressing up in the high viz like Bob the Builder!
Secondly we have had some great conversations with our local council and they have given us all the equipment we need to litter pick in exchange for a few social media posts. These relationships have already been significant and we sense some ‘places or people of peace here’. Thirdly we have had some brilliant conversations with those in the neighbourhood. It is a mixed community around us in terms of age and ethnicity.
It is an area which really needs to know the light only God can bring. Rich and Paul (two of the group) have especially had some significant conversations with some of the neighbourhood around why would a family group like us litter pick this community.
“The amazement and welcome we receive from those we meet whilst out and about is certainly sowing seeds of hope and God’s love. “
Finally though it has impact our wider church community. Over this summer we have been sharing in a video teaching programme called ‘It’s a wonderful world’ which has got us all engaging with practical ways we can ’tread lightly’ on the world God has given us.
Together as a whole church we are considering how we can steward the world God has given us well and in doing so be a light to others in our communities.
The area of plastic pollution and zero waste challenges are hot topics at the moment and the church have a significant voice in this area. We are having brilliant and easy discussions with people of peace around this and our prayer is that these will turn into positive views of God’s family growing.
Do you have a story to share of life as part of a missional community? Do let us know!
Part of our vision as Kx is to see 1 missional expression of church planted for every 1000 people in England and Wales. That’s over 56,000 missional households, communities or churches in every neighbourhood across our villages, towns and cities. Now, we’re not going to be able to do this on our own – God is doing exciting things across our nation with lots of different churches, networks and organisations. But we want to plant our flag in the ground to say this is one of the key things we are focusing on over the next few years and hope you will join us in praying for and seek to plant #1in1000 in your area.
Here is a #1in1000 story from one of HBC Chester’s Missional Communities, called “Welcome” Missional Community.
‘As part of our missional community, we have operated a group called ‘International Forum, Chester’ for about a year. This group aims to welcome and engage with internationals in the Chester area. The IF group meets monthly in a neutral hired venue and has a talk for 20-30 minutes on a topic of international interest. Our numbers of attendees vary between a handful and 20. We have several Muslims from different countries who really enjoy the group and have become good friends.
In the summer we put on an additional event in conjunction with our broader Missional Community and wider people of peace. We had a BBQ in the local park and played ‘croccer’, a camp game based on cricket using a football. Our Muslim friends loved this event, and one of our Ugandan friends went to town bringing his BBQ and lots of food to share. Meanwhile friendships deepened and conversations went to a new level.
Our friends are asking questions about Christian faith and we have been able to share discussions in a natural and respectful way.’