This time last year, Berrywood Church consisted of a core team of six people who were committed to seeing missional and community-building activity on the St. Crispin’s development. At the time most of us met for a weekly Bible-study and we had a struggling mums group running, in addition to the book club and mens football which has been going for nearly about 9 months.
A year later and we can be encouraged in what God has been doing. Our struggling mums group transformed into a thriving one. With several new babies coming to us in April (including our own) the Little Bundles group became a source of relationship building for us and for the mums who came.
Most significantly though, we decided to start meeting together once a month to worship as a core team, but at the same time throwing this open to whoever would want to come, so we invited our friends. After two months meeting in our living room, we had to move location to an unused free church building just over a mile away. At the end of the year we now have a fairly committed and regular group of 12-15 adults with seven-or-so pre-schoolers. About half of those who come previously did not go to any church, but we are encouraged that they now talk of us as ‘their’ church.
In november we held a dedication service for our daughter and invited family and other friends from around here. We really enjoyed seeing the little church full for this. And in December our service took the form of Christmas special with an informal Kiddie-nativity scene at the end. A couple of extra people joined us for this too.
It is clear to me that God has been working as relationships that we had made in good faith have turned into good friendships. It has surprised me (though perhaps it shouldn’t have) that people have come to join us and have stayed. That this growth has happened during a period when I have been suffering with persistent and niggly illnesses from May to November only demonstrates exactly how much of this is of God.
We go into 2013 full of hope. Our next job is to employ a children’s worker and then we can increase the ministries and activities we offer – a toddler group being the most obvious. We will also need to find a venue for these as there is still little movement on the community centre here. We’ll also start to meet on some of the other Sundays of the month, perhaps doing something different to our current offerings. Some mechanism for discipleship is required too. There are people discovering and re-discovering their faith and I’d like to offer appropriate ways for them to do so.
So, a lot to be thankful for.
I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord,
the deeds for which he is to be praised,
according to all the Lord has done for us—
yes, the many good things
he has done for Israel,
according to his compassion and many kindnesses. (Is 63:7)