In Canterbury Diocese a pioneering café-style church, launched in Margate in 2008, is being used as a blueprint for new worshipping communities – there are now nine in total. The £1.4million project has been made possible thanks to a grant of £887,015 from the Church Commissioners, a national body that exist to support the work and mission of the Church of England.
Why Ignite? Our DNA
Firstly, Ignite is church, but it’s probably not church as most people know it, because (in the main) most people – especially those living in our marginalised and social deprived communities – aren’t coming to traditional church. So, we try to be different and relevant, while still communicating the Good News of the Gospel.
In the parable of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25, Jesus gives us our commission to look after the poor, the sick and the needy. This is what we try to do, by showing genuine, intentional compassion for other human beings. We do this by building relationships with people where they are, in their own communities.
God loves to bring people into community, into a knowledge of being loved and valued, through genuine friendships and relationships. This is Ignite’s core DNA.
1 John 4:19 tells us that, “We love because God first loved us." So, we intentionally try to work out that verse in all that we do. We love people, with no agenda, because God first loved us. We want people to feel comfortable and know that they are valued and loved, so that when the time is right – if they want to – they can choose to meet and know the risen Lord Jesus for themselves.
How Ignite engages with the local community
Our missioners go out of their way to intentionally serve and befriend people; to be relational people within their communities and to share God’s love in whatever way it is needed. They imbed themselves into the local area, working out who the ‘movers and shakers of that community are. Gradually, they become involved in the lives of local people and in the life of the community, in order to make a positive difference.
Our model of evangelism is relational; we want to show people that God is for them and not against them. When we go to where the people are and care about the things that they care about, we begin to earn the right to speak into their lives. Those who we work with often feel like they have been forgotten or cast aside because they are unimportant, unwanted, or undesirable. But we all know that God sees them differently. Jeremiah 29: 11 tells us that God has a plan and a purpose for us – for all of us, not just from some of us!
Our missioners do not rush into doing Ignite evenings. Each individual project takes somewhere between six and twelve months before an evening is launched, because genuine relationships and building friendships and trust, are absolutely key. We know that a weekly Ignite evening is probably ready to be launched, when the focus shifts from the missioners seeking out people, to the people actively seeking out the missioners.
How an Ignite evening works
Essentially, an Ignite evening is a game of two halves. The first half is what we call the ‘meet and greet,’ and the second half is known as the ‘main event’.
The ‘meet and greet’ does what it says on the tin… as people come through the doors, we welcome, and chat with them for anywhere between 30 mins to an hour, building intentional relationships and friendships with them. During this time, food is always served, whether it’s cakes, donuts, hotdogs, or a main meal.
Everybody is given a name label as they come in, so that everyone can be addressed by their name. We do this because someone knowing your name is incredibly powerful and affirming, especially if you are coming from a marginalised or deprived context and feel like you have no place in society. Isaiah 43:1 reminds us that ‘God has called us by name and that we are his!’
The second half of Ignite is what we call the ‘main event’, which lasts around 45 mins to an hour.
It has something of the BBC’s ‘One Show’ feel about it… because it is full of short, varied, interactive segments. We’ve done it this way, because many people coming to Ignite have short attention spans, or are not well educated and so short interactive, multi-media segments helps to keep their attention and enthusiasm.
Each week’s main event always has a Christian theme, which might be subtle or very obvious. Thus, each event touches on our relationship with God, through Jesus. However, mixed into all of that is a very large and eclectic selection of other subjects that we might be wanting to teach on, such as lifestyle choices, anger management, forgiveness, how to live more ethically, or even how to live and shop within a budget! But a Christian theme always permeates all that we do. Prayer is always available at the end of the evening.
We might use video clips, table discussions, quizzes, short talks, craft activities, drama, and prayer responses. Occasionally, we might share Communion. On other occasions, we just hang out socially with each other for the whole evening.
Come and see
Check out the locations of our Kent-based Ignite projects on the map below.
St. Paul’s Church - Margate
St Mary the Virgin Church - Ashford
St Andrew’s Church (families Ignite) - Herne Bay
Christ Church - Herne Bay
St Michael’s Church - Sittingbourne
St Martin’s Church - Maidstone
St Peter’s Church (families Ignite) - Aylesham
St John’s Church - Guernsey
To get in touch with the Ignite team, please email our Ignite Project Leader Debbie Ellisdon or call 07946 918383 .