Three Local Churches
Last week, as part of their induction to the team, our NI research assistants had the opportunity to visit three of our local member churches. The churches differ in denomination, approach and style and have different historical roots. Ricky reflects on their experiences…
In the heart of East Belfast is a relatively young church plant called Village. It was birthed in the living room of senior pastor, Lucas Parks. Lucas has been leading this congregation for seven years and has shepherded a steady and healthy growth.
Village church emphasises the importance of community and church planting. They talk about their ministry with warmth and excitement. Lucas and Andrew (to be site pastor for Village South) are incredibly passionate about creating a church culture that emphasises “Church as Family”. Sometimes our modern way of thinking can lead us to deliver more events as a means to achieve community as a body of believers. Village would argue that more events are not what is required, instead, the church should be more intentional about mission. The “Church as Family” slogan is a fascinating insight into how they, as a church, pursue community with one another. It is not just a simple initiative of fellowship, a home or connect group to plug into, but people coming together as family. They have a structure where small ‘Missional Communities’ meet together every week between Sundays in people’s homes around a meal.
Secondly, Village church emphasises the importance of church planting. As Missional Communities develop, the next step is for part of the family to move to another plant. Village church has had healthy growth, from 65 to 225 people attending. In contrast to some larger churches in the area, Village believe that for its members to be effective in their growth, they should be located and given the opportunities where their gifts can be utilised and grown. Lucas further demonstrated his point and stated that it is in fact,
“…better to have four churches of two-hundred than one church of eight-hundred.”