“They had been out shopping on Ecclesall Road and felt drawn into the building “as if a magnet was drawing them” they reported.”
“A local student prayed to become a Christian last Saturday, her housemate was in church on Sunday.”
Many of you have asked us to share some of the stories of what is happening at The Well, so here goes…Firstly, thank you to all of you who made a way to #OpenTheWell – those who have journeyed with us as the starting team, those who have jumped in since and are part of the family, those who have prayed for us across the world – others of you who have supported us and cheered us on – you are all part of the adventure and we are very humbled to see God at work.
Well, what a start we’ve had since we opened our doors with a community party and hog roast on 20th September! While we are known to be people of faith, the journey has far exceeded our expectations in many different ways. 11 weeks on, we’ve more than doubled in size from our launch team numbers and we’re in the process of allowing God to mould us into a new community of faith with a base on Ecclesall Road, but a heart and vision for Sheffield and beyond. We feel very dependent upon God.
One of the words we’ve heard most often in the past few months is “excited”. Often people are honest enough to say it also feels like ‘stepping out of the boat’ with Jesus. It’s a privilege for us all to be part of a new thing that God has birthed. This is a season to be full of vision, dreaming and expectation, and to take deliberate steps towards the kind of community we can become. Our vision is the kingdom and the lost, and our values are important at this early stage (read them here). Already as we’ve prioritised His presence by our worship, God has been powerfully and beautifully present in our morning and evening gatherings. It’s also such good fun to share lots of food and hang-out time with many, and to have served 100s of cups of good coffee in the cafe (we have definitely both eaten too much cake recently!)
We are so proud of how the launch team, and many who’ve joined The Well since September, have given so much of their energies, time, finances, commitment to welcoming so many new faces in the past 2 months. It really feels like a new extended-family is growing among us.
At every Sunday gathering, every week and indeed throughout the week, we welcome folk of all ages who have never been to church, and many returning ‘prodigals’ (both young and old) who’ve been put-off/away from church for many years. All are having fresh encounters with God. We have also been greatly blessed by the number of gifted leaders who have joined us from all across the city, because right now, it’s a case of all hands on deck.
There are wonderful and varied stories as to how the Lord is drawing people to Him and to us at this time. One couple came through the doors of the church last month, not having been inside a church for over 15 years. They had been out Saturday-shopping and said they felt drawn into the building “as if a magnet was drawing them.” They passed to the left and right of the building several times before they could no longer deny the sense of urgency to come in! What a privilege to pray for them to then encounter God right at the front of the church. We have had many similar stories over recent weeks and are amazed at how God’s Spirit is moving.
What’s going on?
Many people have asked us to comment on how and why this is happening. It’s clear that the building is a place of God’s presence (and we very much honour the Methodist heritage in this), and that the worship of our people at this point in time has activated something and increased that sense of God. Please pray for us that we can continue to worship, to steward and to lead well.
“What’s different about this place?”
Young adults frequently end up in our midst drawn by the contemporary feel and signage – on one night a young man had been drinking in the pub next door with his friends, came in for coffee and cake and ended up on the front row of church for the entire service! Some have come through social media, several of whom did not realise we are a church (they entered thinking it was a bar/club but stayed because of the welcome and the sense of the presence of God). Others are drawn initially by the supernatural sense of God but continue to return because of the sense of family.
On our launch night one man came through the door at the end of the night (not aware that it was a church service) and asked “what’s different about this place?” He’s returned every week and is currently on the Alpha course. We praise God for the level of transformation we see in his life already.
Others are being drawn through networks of friends – one of our friends from our gym started coming in September and has radically encountered God – his friend from the gym then joined us this Sunday – having seen such a transformation in his friend’s life. We are praying that more of our personal friends will turn to God at this time.
A student who lives opposite the church prayed to become a Christian on Saturday – on Sunday her housemate was in church beside her. We love the fact that the local students recently commented on Twitter how the church over the road has a party every Sunday night – such is the sense of life and fun! It would be good for that to continue.
We also love the fact that even at our vision and values night last week there were one or two young people who have not yet become Christians, but they want to be in the middle of what God is doing – that was a first for us!
In essence, having led churches for many years we would simply say that this is a very particular time for us, a harvest time, and it feels like things are in acceleration and we are chasing after God. We are amazed at Who He is and all that He does!
So what’s next and what can you pray for?
- Christmas outreach, the weekend of 12/13th December, many of us will be taking to Ecclesall Road with the good news of Christmas. We are partnering with the local Sharrowvale Christmas market so look out for us there if you are around Sheffield
- Our discipleship courses for new Christians beginning in January
- In the new year we will be birthing communities across the city, please pray for this process and for our leadership training
- Finally for our plans brewing to open a supernatural café, where people can come to encounter God, receive healing, hope, direction etc and to develop our work with the poor and vulnerable of this city and overseas