Aims – WHAT do we hope to achieve?
No single initiative can hope to address all these issues. However, we must start somewhere.
The aims of Southcote Alive are as follows:
Southcote Alive is an attempt at co-ordinated, long-term outreach by initiating events that facilitate contact and relationship-building between local Christians, para-Church CSAOs and the community they directly serve. Through these, we will encourage individual Christians to build genuine friendship, and share their faith naturally as they begin sharing their lives.
Southcote Alive also seeks to provide a platform for member Churches to share ideas, and without impeding their individuality, to facilitate co-working and collaboration between them. As a by-product, we hope to foster Church unity. We do not favour any one church.
Southcote Alive also intends to harness the valuable work of CSAOs in making initial contacts with un-churched people, and to link up those local Churches with their ministries. We see this interaction as strongest if it is two-way, as local Christians resource their ministries and provide an onward link towards the Churches.
Lastly, Southcote Alive wishes to incorporate the energy and goodwill of local Christians who are members of churches outside Southcote. Southcote Alive had an unusual start in that it germinated within a large town centre Church, namely Greyfriars, which nonetheless has a fairly strong core of members in and around Southcote. This alliance has already lent considerable strength to Southcote Alive. Its service alongside local churches raises the possibility of involving local Christians from still wider within the Church family.
We recognise that our activities must be undergirded with prayer, both individual, at local church level and at the monthly Churches Together in Southcote meeting.
These aims must not be seen as restrictive, and are not set in stone. In due time, Southcote Alive may add, drop or change functions according to how we see God active within Southcote. Likewise, if Southcote Alive outlives its usefulness under God, we will disband.
Principles – HOW?
We wish to deal with everyone we meet with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15). Everyone is unique and beyond price in the eyes of God. This precludes a hit-and-run, scalp hunting approach to our evangelistic efforts. In keeping with this, our contacts are welcomed as friends, and stay friends unless they choose otherwise.
We are in this for the long haul. Nothing worthwhile is built quickly. We will not be easily discouraged.
Our activities are profoundly unlikely to be the only means by which God is active in Southcote – we hope and pray otherwise. Whether it is through other Christian ministries or church-specific outreaches, Southcote Alive will support, encourage and liaise with them to maximise our usefulness. We will not jealously guard our ‘pitch’.
We will always keep in mind that our purpose is mission. To this end, we hope to proclaim the Gospel by life and lip, by deed and word together, not neglecting either aspect.
31 October 2010
Background – WHY?
Whether we label it outreach, mission or evangelism, all Christians are subject to the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19, namely to take the Good News into the whole world and make disciples in every nation. When our time comes to give account of our lives to Jesus, we can expect to be asked how we fulfilled His clear mandate. What will we say?
For at least a couple of decades our young people have been abandoning church, with older age groups not far behind. Christianity is no longer taught in schools, other than as one of a smorgasbord of religions, and our youngsters also face continual ethical and intellectual challenge from aggressive secularism.
Of course this is true nationally, but Southcote is not exempt. The average age in Southcote churches has been increasing and our congregations are predominantly middle aged and older. Funerals are more common than baptisms or marriages, and despite much hard work, it is probably fair to say that all three Southcote churches are limping to greater or lesser degree.
Parallel to this discouraging picture, there have been bright spots. Interdenominational Christian Social Action Organisations (CSAOs) have proliferated over the last two decades and have touched the lives of thousands of their clients. Reading has been particularly active in this regard; since FAITH and CCA started two decades ago, around 30 other CSAOs have joined them.
These organisations seek primarily to make a positive, practical difference to the lives of those they touch, especially the poor, and secondarily gain a hearing for the Gospel. However, in terms of winning people to faith in Christ, they have had minimal impact. Few of these organisations are directly evangelistic in outlook. Their job, as most see it, is to win an audience for Christ, while not preaching – to help people take a first, early step towards faith by showing the love of Christ in action (1 John 3:18) and so lowering barriers. This is commendable, but is not, by itself, fulfilling the Great Commission. Something more is required.
By and large, the Churches have been ineffective at outreach and remain alien places to 90% of the population. The stark fact is that if we do not act, there are unlikely to be three churches in Southcote in a few years’ time. None of us want that.
Southcote Alive is an informal alliance of the three churches Grange, St Matthews and Southcote Family Church, and faith charity CCA who work together in Southcote for the benefit of our community. We also aim to proclaim the Gospel to the people of our locality.
We have a breakfast meeting on the first Saturday of each month, usually at St Matthews Church. There are joint services throughout the year and a Harvest Supper.
We work together at the Southcote May Fayre, have a joint service and Walk of Witness on Good Friday and organise Carols in the Square at Christmas. We are also working together to run Cafe Alive! at Grange. We also work with Southcote Community Association in events like the May Fayre, Tea Dances, Southcote Nativity etc. In the past we have organised a 'Southcote's got Talent', BBQ's, 2 Christian Musicals over weekends etc.