Around three years ago a local parish church planted a new café style congregation into a local school hall. The main aim was to reach people who wouldn’t normally attend a traditional style church. Essentially, it was based round worship. Where traditional church would be based round organ and hymns and contemporary church would use guitars and modern worship choruses, this plant attempted to use a more informal style – short sermon, up-to-date songs based round a café style format.
With some initial success this project came to a natural conclusion after a year. However, some members of the original planting team wanted to continue to meet and think about ways forward to connect with those who didn’t attend church (whether they had left or not christians). This group continued to meet for a meal on Wednesdays to enjoy each others company and think through want it means to be ‘church’ today.
This small group then engaged and connected with people they knew on the fringes of belief and attempted to build a small community of people who were willing to explore these ideas further.
After a while this small community of people started to form an identity based on the values of mission, sharing a meal, laughing, crying, praying and reading scripture together. Eventually a decision was reached that this community would come under the care of Maidstone Deanery as a network plant within the Fresh Expression movement. Three of our community attended the Mission Shaped Ministry course run by the Anglican Church.
The name HOST was chosen by the community representing our experience of eating together round each others houses (we all host!), our experience of genuine hospitality and wanting to share the hospitality of Christ with others and a sense of the presence of God (a sacramental aspect). We all resonate with the idea of our Christian walk being a journey with our community having a diverse experience of church and faith (both positive and negative). We found HOST to be a safe place to explore our questions, connect with others and meet with God. Our relationships with one another is essential to our community.
Eating together has been a central and important aspect of this journey. We eat together every week drawing on the tradition of the early church and Jesus. This is where we laugh together, connect and share with each other. We have learned that our experience of laughing together (and we do laugh….a lot!) has given us permission to cry, open up and pray for one another.
Early on in our journey we read through Luke’s gospel and saw clearly Jesus’ message of the Kingdom and its emphasis on the poor, the broken, the outcast and the destitute. This ‘mission’ has become the centre of our discussions together with HOST wanting to live out the message of Jesus practically in our community. We are a ‘mission-shaped’ or missional community with the heartbeat of our community not being about style of worship but rather living out the message of Jesus with each other, in our work, family, community and projects. This we realise is our spiritual act of worship. We have the beginnings of a relationship with Maidstone Day Centre and we hope to serve God by serving the most vulnerable in society.
We are an open community and welcome anyone who wishes to join our meal on Wednesday’s and/or to join us in supporting Maidstone Day Care. Do take time to read our values.
Contact Simon, Richard or Michelle on