Christ – Creativity – Community

Church for people who don’t ‘do church’? Is that possible? If people don’t ‘do church’ what do they do? How do they fill their time? What are they committed to?

There’s a bunch of questions we have been asking now for nearly a year. C3 is a small group of people who live in Marple near Stockport (near Manchester!) and since April we have been gathering people around creative activity. ‘Belonging – believing – behaving’ (rather than the other way around), is almost now a creedal statement for new churches and ‘belonging’ is a our basis.

So this is what happens in C3.

We are group-based – we have 5 small groups, one of which is classic cell-group except that it is totally flexible. We use structures as reminders – the famous 4 w’s, welcome, worship, word & witness. This group is all about discipleship, accountability, learning, sharing, going on with God, asking questions – it is the heartbeat of C3.

The ‘face’ of C3 will be the 4 ‘creativity groups’ which gather Christians with others around a common passion!

A card-making group – very popular activity it seems these days. This meets in Marple. A small group meets in Hawk Green around glass-art and leaded windows. A third meets as a partnership with a local Anglican church in Stockport, St Martins, Norris Bank. This is daytime and gathers people around various arts and crafts. A fourth is about to start and is music based – the vision is to gather adults and youth around music and music technology, recording, processing, performing, maybe even selling!!

In all this our driving vision is that church should not be shaped around Christians (only) and what they prefer and like to do, but around non-Christians. C3 is ‘mission-shaped church’. Each of these 4 groups mix Christians, non Christians, unchurched, previously churched.

What age are people in C3?
Emerging church is not just for the emerging generations! I know people who left church some time ago, some decades ago even. They are my age and older (I’m 49!). There are many people who would welcome groups where they could explore faith and life with God, and yet they find conventional church doesn’t do it for them. C3 aims to be all-age church.

Do you evangelise people?
Good question – I hope not! I wouldn’t want people to feel they were being targeted and that we were tricking them into a weekly epilogue. I think we have the faith that if we genuinely want and aim to spend time with people, praying all the while, we will over time build trust and relationship. We pray and wait! We do evangelism, but we don’t ‘evangelize’ people.

Celebration of life with God! We are exploring ways to worship and pray that reflect the kind of people we are coming across. We don’t want to say to people – “here’s what we do, come and do it with us”; we prefer to ask “if you came to worship and pray, how would we do it together?” They won’t necessarily know the answer, but we’d work it out somehow. A couple joined us who had given up on church – he didn’t believe, she’d been hurt in the past by church. They came, we had a meal, we prayed twice between courses – once in thanks, and again for needs. At both times, they were the first to share and ask for prayer!
Tony Hardy is an Anglican clergyman – he will be licensed to C3 by the bishop of Stockport, at All Saints Marple, at 4.00pm on 6th November. This will take place in the context of a ‘Liquid Worship’ event running from 3.00 pm until 6.00 pm. Liquid worship is ‘zoned’ worship – prayer and worship activities arranged in zones in an open space. People come and go as they wish and assemble their own personalized worship event!