Space race for church


2014_10 Oct Cover

Some of the congregation at the initial service at Christ Church Central

(view online version here)

They’ve been growing, moving and building at Christ Church Central, Sheffield!

On Sunday September 7, Christ Church Central relocated its Sunday meetings to a new venue in the heart of Sheffield city centre. The Workstation is a conference centre adjoining the city’s popular Showroom Cinema. The move is the latest response to a decade of steady God-given growth, as the church has met in a primary school, a nightclub, a former Brethren meeting hall and a Scout hall since its launch in 2003.

Outgrowing the premises again

Planted with 50 adults from Christ Church Fulwood in the western suburbs of Sheffield, Christ Church Central now has a regular attendance of over 200 across two services on Sundays, including more than 40 children. The church owns the aforementioned ex-Brethren hall (Egerton Hall) and uses it for midweek activities, but has repeatedly outgrown its various Sunday meeting spaces, prompting the leadership team to pray and search for a new venue in the spring of this year.

The Revd Tim Davies, Senior Minister, takes up the story: ‘We reflected that the size of our meeting space had become a limiting factor in our attempts to grow the gospel in our city-centre location, with our children’s groups in particular feeling the pressure. The Lord answered our prayers through the provision of the Workstation, which gives us more room to grow, as well as being more attractive and accessible than our previous space, and in a better location. We’ve been abundantly blessed and are extremely grateful.’

Opposite the Students’ Union

The new facility is also directly opposite the Students’ Union for Sheffield Hallam University, meaning the church will be well-placed to expand its important and strategic ministry among students.

The move comes, however, as Christ Church Central is in the middle of an even more exciting project: the redevelopment of the Egerton Hall site. Planning permission has been granted for a new building that will include a 300-seater auditorium, as well as additional meeting, catering and administrative facilities.

Building for the future

The building project is central to the church’s long-term strategy, as Tim explains: ‘We’re committed to establishing a permanent, prominent presence for the gospel in the centre of Sheffield – a Bible-teaching, Bible-learning, Bible-living church that reflects our evangelical Anglican identity. We want a building that will enable us to grow large enough to plant new churches sustain-ably in other parts of the city, where the gospel need is extremely great.’

Such a facility comes at a cost: £3m, to be precise. The church family is now praying for and working on the daunting task of raising the funds, with the target of having all the money secured, or at least pledged, by the end of 2015 so that construction can begin. Early signs are encouraging: a poll of members indicated the potential to give £800,000 to the project over the next five years, with the remainder to be sought from external sources.

But there’s a long way to go, as Tim acknowledges: ‘We’re learning a lot – about God and about ourselves. It may be that God uses this project to humble us. But we’ve seen God’s abundant grace to us so many times in the past that we feel confident to push forward prayerfully. And already we’ve seen the project generate significant opportunities for evangelism and discipleship, which is really what we’re all about anyway.’

People who don’t go to church

To what does Tim attribute the church’s growth? ‘The grace of God. We aren’t – in one sense, at least – doing anything special. Just preaching Jesus week-by-week and encouraging one another to follow him authentically and wholeheartedly in our homes and workplaces. Since we began, we’ve aimed to be a church for people who don’t go to church – to present the gospel as clearly as possible to as many people as possible. But any success we’ve had isn’t our doing. We’re planting and watering as best we can, but it is God who has given – and will, we pray, continue to give – the growth.’

For more info, visit www.christchurchcentral.co.uk

This article was first published in the October issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, artciles or reviews, visit us online or subscribe to en for monthly updates.