Where do we Grow From Here? Ken Benjamin tells us about one approach we might like to try

Ken Benjamin freely admits that when he first became a Christian he “loved the message but was disappointing with the packaging.”

Sadly this dissatisfaction didn’t get any better, so it was that some years later, Rev Ken by then a Baptist minister at a church in Chichcester spent a sabbatical term looking into ways of making the church, but in particular Chichcester Baptist Church more credible and more relevant to the communities they are called to serve.

Fast forward to September 2018 and you’ll find Ken, who right now is President Elect of the Baptist Union of GB pastroring a very different church to that which he joined as Associate Minister way back in 1996.Driven, then as now by one particular piece of scripture; Luke chapter 12 verse 48… “to whom much is given, much will be required” Ken interprets this not in terms of physical, worldly acquisitions but as trust in and the assurance of a relationship with Jesus that will stretch from here to eternity. Thereby, he argues, the onus on Christians who have it all has to be to be bold in their approach to anyone who under normal circumstances would never dream of attending a “traditional” Sunday morning Service. 

Ken was invited to spend the weekend at MBC as part of the lead-up to us deciding whether or not we feel it right to make some quite fundamental changes to our Sunday mornings.

And whilst keen to stress that what fits one church certainly won’t fit all Ken shared with us details of the eight Alternative Gatherings which Chichester Baptist Church runs, and to which they find a good number of the aforementioned reluctant church goers are attracted.

These, with the exception of Sunday Lunch all take place on Sunday morning, once a month and run roughly alongside the church’s regular time of worship. They are: Sunday Lunch, a free meal which is served twice a month to the homeless and those in need; Walk and Talk, a gentle dog friendly stroll; Heart for Parklands, Parklands is the area of town in which CBC sits and this is aimed at local residents who struggle to get out and who would welcome a friendly chat and visit; Common Threads, a creative knitting, crochet & needlework group that meets in a local school; Cedar MinistryCedar Ministry takes church to elderly residents seeking to share God’s love with and serve all people in local care homes; Mud, Sweat and Gears, a bike ride that goes both on and off road; Sports Plus, held at Chichester College Sports Centre and includes football, tennis, fitness class, bouncy castle, family fun games and table tennis and finally Early Birdies, an early morning nine holes of golf at Chichester Golf Club. 

“In total,” says Ken, “these eight different ministries involve around three hundred people, many from CBC but also a growing number of individuals and families who have been invited by our members to join them. The one common thread, however, is that which ever one you attend there is always time set aside for chat, for outreach, for testimony and for prayer.”

Which direction MBC decides to take is of course a matter for its membership to decide but as a courageous attempt to make church more credible and more relevant Chichester’s bold example certainly provides much food for thought. 

If you would like to find out more about Chichester Baptist Church’s Alternative Gatherings follow this link  https://chichesterbaptist.org.uk/alternativegatherings.htm   




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