A growing and vibrant community offering varied worshipping opportunities.
New Song Network is a growing community of Christians meeting together
for worship, fellowship and service. Starting with New Song Cafe and Discipleship evenings in 2009 we met for worship and
fellowship centred around coffee and cake (always a winning combination).
Drawing people from a wide radius
our community has grown extensively. New Song breakfast started over a year ago on a Sunday morning encouraging families to
worship in a new way. Using video, drama, dong and discussion we have explored the Methodist "Our Calling"theme.
With "Service"we have committed ourselves to supporting Kiva- a internationally renowned company who provide loans to help alleviate poverty. We are currently supporting 7 initiatives
- to find out more ask Fran, Kit or Jackie. In addition to supporting charities we seek to serve our community through the
Community Action Team (CAT) where we are aiming to engage in good deeds.
For our "Worship"we seek
to offer a variety of opportunities for creative worship sitting alongside traditional forms of worship. We seek to cherish
both and create communities which respect our tradition and embrace new ways of being church. Within our community we are
developing a series of home groups as a source of encouragement, discipleship and friendship.
a key thread of our network - we seek to find opportunities of allowing people to talk about God and share God's story
and their story of faith with others. A walking group, pub church, curry night, quiz night and host of fun events are developing
to encourage Godly conversations.
Throughout of all this is "learning and caring"sharing God's love
and compassion in practical ways.Our discipleship evenings offer an opportunity for open discussion and we have covered such
themes as pastoral care, Beatitudes, Esther, Israel/Palestine - an ongoing conflict, Brokenness, Lent, Four Gospels and Methodism.
The following article was published on the Fresh Expressions website in December 2011. http://www.freshexpressions.org.uk/stories/newsongcafe
New Song Café has been running at Bold Street Methodist Church, Warrington, for three years.
Jackie Bellfield traces its story as a fresh expression of church. It's amazing to think back to how it all got started
and what our intentions were with it. The whole point was for it to be a stepping stone to some sort of gathering in a local
We did not anticipate that people would come in the numbers they did and we still welcome new people every
month to the Bold Street Mission's church hall but we're not in Costa… yet! We're currently up to 125 and
we'd struggle to fit more people in at the moment. About 30% of regular attenders now see New Song Café as their
church and that number is increasing all the time. It's because New Song Café is offering them vibrant Christianity
while creating community, building relationship and providing opportunity to explore issues of faith in a friendly, non-threatening
We recently welcomed a special guest - Wolfie, the mascot for the Warrington Wolves rugby league
team. People queued up to get a photo taken with him. Everyone really enjoyed that – except for fans of the club's
local rivals, the Widnes Vikings!
Our band comprises drums, trumpet, keyboard and guitar. They really get things going
and it's fantastic to see all the ages taking part – our oldest regular is 89 and the youngest participant was six
days old. We've now got every age in between. There's also a great denominational mix among those with current and
previous church links – mind you, some of those links have been very fragile; some have mums or dads who go to church
but they have been fringe members themselves. New Song Café has helped them to get engaged on their own terms because
of its very open environment.
We'll sing six songs, including two new songs every month, and then we'll
have a break of about 25 minutes before singing a further six. In the past three years we have learned over 300 songs. If
people are not accustomed to singing in public with others around them, they can be a little puzzled at the start of it all
– but that's OK, we'll just give people time and space to get used to what's happening. After just one song,
I can guarantee that the feet will start tapping and there maybe tears or they will be singing. People are really responding
to the worship and those not linked to traditional congregations or fellowships now see New Song Café as their church.
We need to consider what we do next with New Song Café because we are at the critical stage of thinking
about how we move it forward. One thing that is going to happen is that we will grow the New Song network to include a New
Song Breakfast to again offer a very different style of church – though still in the context of worship. There will
also be New Song Pub Church.
Some of those who come along have been disenfranchised or hurt by traditional
church but they are seeing New Song Café as their future. In feedback from them they say they know they can also bring
their non-Christian friends along with them because they know it's going to be consistently good and it helps them to
start having godly conversations along the way.
There's no doubt that New Song Café is becoming
a very loving and caring church. A key decision as things unfold is whether to create New Song Church as a separate entity
or continue to operate under the authority of Bold Street Methodist. At the moment we decided to continue with the latter.
This has been great and has really enabled us to see mixed economy in action; the established church has been really fired
up because they see New Song Café developing. As a result they see the future of Bold Street - now part of Sankey Valley
Methodist Circuit - as being more secure because of what we are doing. It really is mixed economy in action.
Song Café meets on the 4th Sunday of the month from 7pm to 9pm. In saying that, it never starts on time… we
have local preachers who come along and point at their watches because people are still chatting to each other and having
coffee at 7pm. They say they're ready to start but we tell them that we have already started because the chatting and
the coffee and the being together is all part and parcel of it. That's what community is.
In a way,
we are a bit unusual as a fresh expression in that the whole thing for us is about focusing on worship as the heart of what
we do. Many fresh expressions discern that introducing worship may be later down the line for them in their development because
so many people have so little experience of what it means to worship. For us, in our context, it is different.
people arrive they'll get a coffee or tea and select from what is normally a mountain of cake on offer! They'll have
a chat, I'll welcome them in – particularly anyone new, we may have a short video clip or something but then a worship
band will lead us in singing 12 songs during the evening. We'll have a giggle and I'll tell a few stories and have
a joke with people as we go on because it's important to celebrate people's presence.
I love the traditional,
I love the inherited but that alone is not going to be sustainable in its present form for the next 50 years. What will carry
Bold Street through is the network of church communities developing. New Song has grown beyond what we ever imagined. Thinking
back to the original idea for it all, we might well end up going into Costa and we have an invitation to do so but the next
thing is Pub Church in a local bar on a Sunday night.
There are still so many questions of course. How do we grow
this? How do we nurture it bearing in mind that some of the people feel disenfranchised with institutional church? How can
we adapt our denominational system so that we can be more flexible in structure when things are developing? Could worship
leaders, for instance, be licensed to a circuit rather than to a church? At the moment there are quite a lot of challenges
around these things and it can be quite frustrating at times.
Sankey Valley Circuit has brought together
the former Warrington, Widnes, St Helens and Prescot, and Ashton and Makerfield circuits. Its purpose is to release us for
mission and it's wonderful that New Song Café certainly does tell others about Jesus. However, we know that New
Song Café is not for everybody and that will also be true when we start up the Pub Church but we're happy with
that because we are simply looking to create opportunities for godly relationships.
We have also set up
discipleship evenings and between 18 and 25 people now come to that. Thirty five people also came on an away day to explore
more about faith. People are being transformed by singing worship to God and the tears of freedom and liberation are phenomenal.
New Song Breakfast is just about to start from 9am to 10.15am at Latchford Methodist Church followed by a traditional
Communion service. There will be half hour of bacon butties and then there will be a couple of video clips to prompt a discussion
time. The same theme will be used for the New Song Breakfast and the Communion that follows.
we have been discussing our strategy for future development and 20 people have made a commitment to the New Song Network.
We are now exploring the future and are developing a variety of roles in leadership. To be honest, I'm just trying to
keep up with it all. We've just given out a New Song calendar detailing what we hope to achieve in 2012. It says, 'Keep
calm and pray on!'