Story 60 - Christmas 2020
Clayton Baptist Church, Bradford
After the arrival of Kenny Brown, Minister-in-Training at Clayton Baptist Church, and his family in 2018, the church embarked on developing an authentic every member ministry culture nurturing the congregation to be innovative alongside intentionally listening to the community and asking the community how we could serve. In Sept 2019 Lucy Brown was appointed as the children and families worker which has led to greater engagement with the community through a plethora of creative ideas.
Written by Kenny Brown, Minister-in-Training - 27/11/2020
‘Let Your Light Shine’ are events occurring throughout the year focussed on reaching the community through building relationships between church and community so that the light of Jesus can shine through us and those that don’t know him can ask themselves -who does their light shine for?
The ‘Let your Light Shine’ mission area is in its early stages of infancy. It has grown out of our pop-up craft cafés, launched in 2019. The prompting to get things moving stems from being passionate about connecting with the wider community, not being a church that is hidden away behind a closed door or a building in a graveyard, but a vibrant community that lives out what it speaks.
When it came to Halloween our first main event would normally have been our annual ‘Carnival of Light’ which couldn’t happen in the traditional sense. Innovation, creativity, and a large dose of divine inspiration was drawn upon to get the ball rolling leading us to have a story trail around the church grounds based on the theme of 'community', a pumpkin trail using the businesses, and craft bag that included 'a pumpkin prayer', explaining that it is because of Jesus that we want our light to shine. Thus our ‘Let Your Light Shine’ mission initiative was born with the intentionality to let the light of Jesus shine through us to those around us.
Having hosted the ‘Ello Pumpkin - Let your light shine’ further promptings came that the phrase ‘Let your light Shine’ with the hashtags #letyourlightshine and #Jesuslightoftheworld is what we should become synonymous with, for our outreach events will be shared with the community and beyond e.g. ‘You’re Flippin’ Awesome - Let your light shine’ (pancake event), ‘Hoppy Easter - Let your light shine’ (Easter Event) the ideas are rolling in and so are the puns).
Our festive ‘Follow the Star’ Programme includes the ‘Great Village Advent Calendar’ where throughout December, people book to decorate a window in their house (the theme is ‘light’) that is visible to the public and members of the public are encouraged to walk round the village to find the windows (clues are to location are given out on our Facebook page). We are planning a ‘Star-gazing’ treasure hunt. Hiding stars posters around the village in windows for people to spot and discover ‘how many angels/ baby Jesus’ the stars are hiding with. A ‘Nativi-TREE’ church yard story trail -people follow the stars around the church yard, find the nativity characters and read an adaptation of the Christmas Story hidden in the trees and ‘Star-maker’ craft packs will be given which will contain craft activities as well as scripture. Using social media to keep everyone up to date, livestream short Gospel messages, and make resources available. Additionally, we are publishing an online ‘Follow the Star’ nativity presentation!
We experimented and received positive feedback with people appreciating the efforts that we’d gone to in taking a relational approach, building on the fact that people know people. Sometimes the people we know best are the people we often forget to mention our faith to. It’s reminding people to live, breathe Jesus in a very natural, gentle, authentic way. Someone said to me recently, a person will read you first, before they will read a bible.
Our prayer is that we continue building on these relationships and developing trust within the community so that we can reach different generations and nurture people. Praying that members of our church would be empowered and enabled to do things they never thought possible and that through that we’ll have more ideas, creativity and ultimately more people who find Jesus living in our village.
Alongside this, the church is serving as a collection point for its member inspired initiative the ‘Clayton Winter Coat Bank’ where people can donate children’s coats which will be distributed throughout December to local children. Contact with local schools has been made to enable them to touch base with families who would benefit from our coat bank and we have been overwhelmed by the generosity of our congregation and local community.
In building a church community that looks beyond our own needs and developing the relationships established with local schools during our summer food project, from the December the 1st, we are launching a ‘Reverse Advent Calendar’, encouraging people to collect an item of food each day until Christmas, which will then be distributed to families in the local community. Again, we are engaging with different people throughout our village and some of our church members are being bold.
Go for it! Plan to do things excellently. Be determined to get an awesome reputation for what you do. Collaborate with others. Look for people who are skilled in areas and delegate. Be prepared to drop things that don’t work well - hold things loosely. Above all soak everything in prayer! Remember that it’s God’s ministry - he’s been incredibly generous in letting you in on his ideas and letting you take part. If it doesn’t go the way you planned (and I am saying this as much to myself as anyone) then, that’s okay - you haven’t failed - God’s got a better plan and when we look back - all we will see is his goodness. God will not waste any experience, and nothing comes back void. So long as we submit everything to him and do all in HIS not our strength. Do not be afraid. It’s okay to be scared - it’s a human emotion, but don’t let fear stop you. Be bold. Seek him and we will find him. He will find you.