ChristChurch Tilehurst (CCT) has started its move to being an independent church, after beginning five years ago as a congregation plant from Carey Baptist Church (CBC) in Reading.
CBC had outgrown its current building and it seemed that the Lord was leading us to plant a new satellite congregation. We identified an area in the Reading district called Tilehurst, and a congregation began meeting in a school hall there. It was originally called Carey Westwood Farm, after the school in which we meet.
We began with a congregation of about 30 people, including children, and a mix of ages and stages. In 2012, I was called as assistant pastor at CBC with special responsibility to help with the work at Carey Westwood Farm.
Over the years, the work grew, with new people joining us from the local area. We are now a congregation of about 50-60 people. There are several non-believers who meet with us every week.
We have enjoyed a wonderful sense of unity and family and a heart to reach out to our local community. Not having our own building has presented various challenges, but has reminded us that church is a people, not a building.
It has also shifted our focus away from mainly events-driven ministry, as important as that is, towards building meaningful relationships with each other and those in our communities.
Our main activities have been a Sunday morning service with a Sunday school, home groups, a children’s holiday Bible club and participation in several community or school fetes, as well as a number of one-off events or special services at Christmas and Easter.
Over time, the Lord again seemed to be leading us towards becoming an independent church and over the last 18 months we have been working towards this end with Carey’s blessing. We are awaiting confirmation from the Charity Commission about having our own charity status.
On 4 September, we launched the church with a new name, ChristChurch Tilehurst, where I have been called to be the first pastor. We were grateful that BBC Radio Berkshire invited me to interview me about the new church.
The launch service was a fantastic occasion, with almost 150 people present, with visitors from as far as Bristol and the Midlands. I preached from John 10, on Jesus as our Good Shepherd, which helps us understand what God wants CCT to be and to do.
Like a flock of sheep, we are a community of Christians who follow our Good Shepherd because he alone can give us real life. Then we are to bring people to Jesus. As Jesus seeks lost sheep, so we must make it our mission to bring others to the Shepherd who can give them life.
The service was followed by a lunch, with about 100 staying to eat. We are incredibly excited about our future and what God could do through us.
Our vision is to see 20 people come to Christ by the year 2020 (We’re calling it ‘20/20’). We know this is a great challenge but we are trusting in a great God. We are seeking to expand our programme of activity and be passionately outward-looking.