Learn about our weekly gathering as church community.
Why We Don’t Meet on a
Pre-lockdown Sunday mornings typically served a small, faithful, congregation. As a church had been questioning whether the traditional idea of a Sunday service was right for the church’s context for some time. It seemed to be ‘just what had always been done’ and a tradition. Tradition is not necessarily a bad thing in itself, but as a church, we’d started to become really uncomfortable with a passive, consumer based model of church gathering, that involved people turning up each week to sit in rows of chairs and be spoon fed from the front, often by a middle class person.
As a church, Old Lodge Lane has experienced another way. Five years ago we began to host an alternative fortnightly gathering called Thursday Tea. It was based around a community meal and the three values of Eat Pray Love – and though it looked different to a traditional Sunday, was theologically, what gathered church is meant to be. It was also more in keeping with the way our children are currently educated – ‘less about front-led teaching, and much more experiential’.
At its height Thursday Tea welcomed around 90 people. What we discovered was that when we compared the two models – Thursday and Sunday – it’s very easy to see that one was thriving, and one wasn’t!
Like every other church and organisation, lockdown changed everything. We opted not to have online service straight away as a large part of the congregation don’t use the internet, instead we encouraged people to deepen their own relationship with God during this difficult period using some of the skills in a course it had done just before the lockdown. When not being spoon-fed from the front, the church discovered that they were capable of studying scripture themselves; learning the art of silence, contemporary spirituality; all without the need for the traditional Sunday format. It meant that once restrictions lifted we started to realise that some of the elements that we have as a part of a service on a Sunday wasn’t actually missed. However, meeting together is important so we took the decision to meet on Thursday evenings instead.
What we now do on Thursday evenings is gather around a table and eat dessert together! This is a lot more like what the early church did. We share communion together, pray, worship and talk. It’s different to our previous Thursday Tea, but still an alternative-style gathering, starting at 6.30pm and finishing by 8. We hope that meeting together in this format allows those who participate, to enjoy time together with others and be encouraged and strenthened by God through this time of worship together. For those who want more, we have podcasts to delve deeper in teaching and also a homegroup where we encourage those who come to share the highs and lows we all experience in life and worship, support and pray for eachother. We also encourage as many people as possible to explore service for God, as an act of communal and personal worship to God through our outreaches during the week.
2 years ago, God called us as a church to join him on a journey that had no map! This is an exciting and scary thing to be called to do. It’s natural to fell drawn to maps because we like the idea that we know where we are heading but we know that this is not what God had called us as a church to do. Joining God on a journey that has no map means that we accept that only God knows where He is leading us, we cannot make assumptions about outcomes and instead must rely on hearing God’s voice and see where He is at work and follow Him instead of our own ideas and plans. Choosing to worship together on a Thursday instead of Sunday is only a small part of this journey but we feel called to blaze a trail for others to follow as we discover and learn what it means for us to follow God’s Spirit in this community.
We currently have 1 home group that meets on a Tuesday evening.
For more information please get in touch.
Reedham Park Ave, Purley
CR8 4BQ, England
Old Lodge Lane Baptist Church
Reedham Park Ave, Purley
CR8 4BQ, England
Phone: 020 8668 6260