THEME: An Apostolic Community
After a 40-year history of foundation-laying, expansion, consolidation and transformation, New Community has become an apostolic family, aiming to lead the city of Southampton and the wider Solent region into life, in real and tangible ways.
The 2000s brought a transition in New Community, which shifted the church’s focus to local communities and to seeing the city and region impacted by God’s Presence. That focus still remains today, as the church seeks to be an apostolic community dedicated to bringing God to the lives of those around them.
“What’s exciting at the moment is that there is a coming together of several things,” says Senior Leader, Caroline Kennedy. “One of them is that there’s a greater emphasis on the Presence of God and that’s brilliant. But it’s not enough on its own. God has and is sending us out into the city, encouraging us to focus on the community and be the solution.”
With that comes a sense of God empowering people to be who He has called them to be and bring His presence to their workplaces, families and neighbourhoods.
“God’s placed people in business, politics, schools and universities, and people are just doing their bit in being part of His mission,” says Senior Leader, Billy Kennedy. “That’s so exciting to see.”
This is particularly coming through in the ‘Ignite’ and ‘Dare to Dream’ courses, which encourage people to discover who they are in God and what His plan is for humanity and for their lives. Events like the ‘Tiny Treasures’ toddlers group and the ‘Community Café’ are an incredible outworking of that within the church framework, as people bring God’s love to mothers, families and the local community, just by getting to know them.
Connections with other churches and Christian organisations have also brought a strong sense of unity in the city and across the Eastleigh Borough. New Community Church now partners closely with City Life Church, James Street Church and the Methodist Church, as well as working alongside a variety of others. By working closely with other congregations, the church can be a more effective apostolic community as a whole, impacting the city with God’s love together.
“Unity has been a big thing over the last few years. God is bringing the church together in a very visible and tangible way,” says Billy. “We’re recognising that we don’t have everything we need to do what God’s called us to. But when we join with others, we do.”
The Pioneer Network, which Billy and Caroline assumed leadership of in 2009, has been a central part of this unity. Being at the heart of a network has enabled New Community to work closely with churches all over the UK and has opened up work with Methodist churches across the country. God seems to be breaking down boundaries and encouraging all church groups to bring His presence to those around them.
In the same way, our student team has joined up with Fusion, a charity that’s passionate about student mission and that trains our team to reach more students in Southampton with God’s love. Our Healing on the Streets team was also birthed from connections with other churches which work together to pray for and heal the sick across the city.
And as the church increases this apostolic community, there is a sense of focusing on both God’s word and His presence, to bring life, hope and love to the city and region.
“Today, I’m desperate for revival. I pray for it daily, longing to see the day when revival breaks out and thousands of people, young and old, are swept into the Kingdom,” Roy Pearson, Central Congregation.
“It’s amazing to be sitting here 40 years on from that first meeting and still be excited about new things happening. We all have the same passions as back then; they haven’t gone away,” Phil Orchard, Central Congregation.
“It’s not just about looking back at the past, it’s about what is God doing now. I’ve realised that all the things that I came here for – to see my local community impacted and to see the glory of God break out in the UK – that is actually happening,” Lizzie Cox, Eastleigh Congregation.
“I’m excited that there are two new generations coming up. I love the fact we’re still involved with Solent and Southampton Universities, and that people seem to get envisioned and equipped to go out from here,” Jenny Deagle, Central Congregation.
“I love how our church is also our family, and how we all rally round both practically and in prayer when life is tough,” Becky Boxall, Central Congregation.
Being an Apostolic Community
“The real heart of what’s being called to us, is to encounter God and to walk in His presence. And that flows over into people’s lives – to colleagues at work, neighbours and schoolmates. So our worship on a Sunday becomes an overflow of the life we’re living the rest of the week,” Theo Amer, Senior Executive Leader.
“I love the continued development of the idea that everyone – wherever they are, whatever they do – can bring in Kingdom life,” Chris Thomas, Central Congregation.
“We love being in community and having the Agape meals: breaking bread, praying together, talking out issues together. And we love the freedom to go and be what God has called us to be. The opportunities to learn, explore and serve,” Phil & Sheelagh Clarke, Central Congregation.
“It’s been amazing to develop relationships with people in my area and invite them to things like BBQs and New Year’s Eve parties. Not so I can preach to them, but so they begin to know me as a friend and we impact each other’s lives. I’m excited to see us affecting our neighbourhoods, because to me, that’s what it’s all about,” Sue Hutchinson, Central Congregation.
“We take our Sunday encounters out into the community, carrying the presence of God into our workplaces, schools and streets; sharing the same love we encounter on Sundays with the homeless, the broken and the lonely,” Alex Boxall, Central Congregation.
Why We’re Excited About the Future
“I’m excited about Hope Community School. It’ll be a great opportunity to connect with the local community and to see what God will do with the families in the city. There’s a lot of need and we’ve got the potential to meet that need,” Carolyn Chart, Central Congregation.
“I feel the future is about pushing forward on genuine spirituality and seeing that marriage of the Word and the Spirit. And it’s about crying out to God for revival – in whatever way you understand revival to be expressed,” Phil Orchard, Central Congregation.
“I’m excited about seeing what happens as worship, prayer and the prophetic continue to come together,” Alex Boxall, Central Congregation.