At the end of last year we knew we wanted to go deeper and reach wider as a church, which would mean working on visibility, content but also understanding how best to support the community in which we operate. So we launched a survey for locals of all faiths and backgrounds, to answer so we can see how we can serve.
The survey was put on all our socials and across all the WhatsApp groups on the estate and Thames View. And it seemed to rock the boat a bit. People seemed offended. It seems to me that faith, but specifically Christianity is very polarising. Crimes of the past and people not wanting those of other faiths to be offended, means it’s almost taboo speaking about discipleship.
As someone who personally hates making things awkward, or pushing my own views, usually things like this make me feel uncomfortable. But after hearing the talk at New Wine, I’m less worried about trying to be a friend of the world, especially where the questionnaire wasn’t about joining our discipleship movement, and more about what residents need in our small part of Barking & Dagenham.
Because of this, I didn’t have high hopes of getting many responses.
And probably in the grand scheme of things that make huge impact across both our Wards, it didn’t get huge numbers engage. But we had decent enough numbers.
- There’s a substantial number of people who do have faith in our area, which of course includes those from other faiths. There is a small number of people who said they weren’t sure if they had a faith or not, and it’s here we can be of most help should people want more information or a platform to ask questions and debate. A stereotype the church has is that everything is set in stone without a place for open discussion and uncertainty. But we do things a bit differently
- A third of those who did the survey said they wanted active help in taking their next step closer to God. Again showing the need that we might be able to plug.
- The main need for the estate and expected from a church is a sense of community and need for connection. Something we knew but was great to have it confirmed by others
What We Intend To Do
We already use the Discover Bible Study way of looking at the Bible which allows people to come as they are with all their questions and relates it to us in the here and now which makes it more accessible.
As the survey suggests with the want for more human connections, we weren’t made to live in isolation so be part of our church family to travel life with Jesus & friends. This month, all Hubs (except Youth Hub) will start to meet on Sundays at 4pm at The Rivergate Centre, with a café style set up, time for worship, Bible discussion and activities for children.
There’s also a piece of work needed to make the church more visible and known, as well as focus more on our WhatsApp communications as it seems to be everyone’s platform of choice.
Lord we pray for those searching for You, whether knowingly or unknowingly, and we pray that we, as Your church, are able to reach those You need us to reach. We pray that as we journey life as disciples together, we’re able to support each other and others. May our plans for Church At Barking Riverside be Your will, not ours and as we start a slightly new rhythm with our Hubs, may this suit more of our church family so everyone feels able to be church together.