Growth and multiplication have always been the pattern for those who are called by God and who pursue their call and step into his plans; Abram ‘exalted Father’ became Abraham ‘father of a multitude’. Joseph the boy dreamer became Joseph Governor of Egypt. Philip who waited on tables in Acts 6 became Philip the evangelist by Acts 8 and Saul the persecutor became Paul the world changer. Each of them discovered the joy of stepping into new seasons of fruitfulness.
Ecclesiastes tells us that ‘there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.’ That means that there are seasons for churches to grow, and as the Apostle Paul spent time inputting to the local church he expected and spoke of observable progress: ‘Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith.’ Phil 1:25
In Southampton the work of our Commission church, planted in 2007 has been growing over the last few years. In 2015 a regular Sunday meeting would have been around 130 people. By 2016 it had become 150, and it the first half of 2017 it grew to an average Sunday of 210. At the beginning of September Sunday attendance hit a new high of over 260.
Numbers aren’t an end in themselves, but numbers represent lives being transformed, and we want to see those in their thousands, so such progress is worth celebrating together.
Consider Bridget. Bridget was invited to Alpha by a colleague, and one day very nervously took the decision to come along to church on a Sunday. She anxiously waited outside the building until someone invited her in. Later that year she was baptised and hasn’t looked back. Since Westpoint 2017 year she has picked up an urgency to bring the Kingdom of God in her workplace, and began to pray for a colleague, Tina. Tina lives just round the corner from Life Church Lordshill, the newest of Southampton’s three sites. On the very first Sunday Tina came. Just like Bridget, she waited nervously outside the building until someone invited her in. She wept through most of the meeting, and God is clearly at work, bringing his beautiful transformation.
For many years the vision of Life Church has been to grow and multiply into more areas of the city. It hasn’t always been an easy call, but it has been God’s call, and so ultimately God finds a way. The result is that more people in more areas of the city are hearing the gospel and finding their place in church.
Sunday 17th September was the first full Sunday with meetings across three sites, plus an afternoon ‘International Meeting’ which mostly caters for folks from India and Nepal.
One of the unexpected blessings of this growth is the way it has released servant leadership in the church. Multiplication hasn’t just been about venues and meetings, but serving and joining in. Last Sunday there were 77 members leading across the sites, which is double the previous amount. That’s more gifts being released, more parts of the body playing their part.
Being on mission together means that we can all celebrate such breakthroughs, and we can also help. When Jesus provided his fishermen friends with a big catch, they needed the help of another boat. Similarly, Life Church in Southampton would really value your prayers as they seek to steward the growth and vision God has given. They would also love to invite you to join in if you are looking for a pioneering context to get your teeth into. Their latest site in the Lordshill area of the city is an area of great need. For the next few months it will be all about building new relationships and reaching new people, with a monthly Sunday meeting to share vision and grow the work. From early 2018 this site will meet every week, and the leaders are praying for other pioneer fishermen to come and help.
To find out more about the work of Life Church, Southampton click here.