feed. is a fresh expression of church run by skiers and snowboarders – for skiers and snowboarders – in the Canterbury region of New Zealand's South Island. Mike Keith describes the café church with a difference.

Mt Hutt ski area is known to have one of the best mixes of mountain terrain in New Zealand; it's just over an hour's drive from Christchurch and about 35 minutes from the town of Methven.

Feed. is an initiative of All Saints Anglican Church, Methven and it has traditionally taken place on Sunday evenings for nearly 20 weeks from June to October – our winter season. The original vision came from the previous minister, Dave Clancey, and it has now been running for five years; I've only been the minister at All Saints for about nine months so I 'inherited' it as a going concern.

feed. - skiIt started because people come to Methven from all around the world to work in the ski/snowboard industry. Some might be Mt Hutt staff, like instructors, or they may work in the hospitality and catering industry. They need to hear about Jesus! The church very much saw a need in its surrounding area and began a fresh expression to engage with that need.

We are now planning to extend feed. over our summer months. Whilst the focus in Methven shifts away from people directly involved in winter snow sports, there remain international workers  – as well as locals – who come to see feed. as their spiritual home so this is very encouraging.

In our planning for this season, we broadened our aim to reach not only those associated with the ski industry but also locals and farmers in the surrounding areas. Methven has a core population of about 1,400, which increases significantly in the winter, but we are in a fast-growing area with rich farmland. Many of the farms nearby are converting from sheep to dairy and this is bringing more employment. We have found that some of these people, many of whom are from overseas – particularly the Philippines – are starting to attend feed. One of the reasons they come is simply because it takes place the evening; the morning isn't suitable at all for dairy workers!

feed. - roomThe format each week is:

  • open with a welcome at 6pm;
  • give thanks and eat;
  • ask question to fit in with the theme or talk;
  • play an audio visual (see our facebook group page for some of the audio visuals – and additional comments about what happens from week to week);
  • interview someone – might be a newer person to get to know them or a Christian to give their testimony about what Jesus has done for them;
  • the interviewee plays a snowboard race game as a bit of fun
  • Bible reading;
  • 15-20min Bible talk;
  • prayer;
  • additional audio visual;
  • table discussion;
  • coffee and dessert.

We uncompromisingly teach the truth about Jesus from the Bible, his death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sin and the joy of eternal life. We do so in love – in an appropriate and respectful way – giving the opportunity for people to discuss and debate, agree or disagree. Bible reading and teaching is an essential and non-negotiable part of our time together; the format must include this.

feed. - mapThere was a break of nearly a year between ministers and, during that time, feed. was lay-run – with visiting speakers each week. The church 'really 'took ownership' of feed. and there is still a lot of lay involvement, particularly in getting everything ready, technical stuff (audio visual), cooking, washing up and packing everything away. It's pretty labour intensive, particularly the cooking, as we average about 30-40 people each week but we have had over 60 people at times.

I am very grateful for the team of helpers we have and for the generosity of our parishioners who donate food, money, and many other things. Without such dedicated lay people, it simply wouldn't happen. It is very much a ministry of our church that gives the opportunity for everyone to be involved.

Each week, there are at least one or two newcomers and, for many, it is their first church experience. Every new person gets a welcome pack containing a gospel and some carefully chosen tracts – as well as a chocolate bar or two! Over time, we welcome in people of all ages, from the early teens right through to the more 'mature aged'.

Another very positive outcome is that the format has proved attractive to a core group of younger people. We currently do not have any ministries at church to cater for them but, as a result of feed's success we have just decided to launch a weekly 'Junior Youth Club' where they can come together in a weekly, afterschool, fellowship group.

feed.backI am also a chaplain for Mt Hutt and this is a ministry which very much complements 'feed.' in that I am part of the employment support for employees and guests. This means I actively build relationships with the staff, some of whom also come along to 'feed'. Many of them are also 'locals' so the chaplaincy is a community role which allows me to build connections with people in the immediate area.

I don't really know what people mean when they talk about going 'to the edge' in ministry. For me, it is simply a matter of doing what the church should always be doing, namely 'teaching the truth in love'. If anything is 'on the edge', it is that we look to remove any 'unhelpful', church barriers so that unchurched people – who might feel uncomfortable with the traditions and liturgy of a more 'traditional' church service setting – can feel comfortable when they come. 

There are no set prayers or liturgy, no singing and I don't wear my collar – I wear a t-shirt, hoodie and jeans – because it's much more casual and relaxed. We sit around tables, eat, talk, laugh, have fun and are also serious together.

We still have collection but we don't have collection plates – we have a ski boot mounted on a mini ski. If people see feed as their 'spiritual home', they have the chance to financially partner with what we are doing.  When I think about it, I suppose many traditional churchgoers would probably see what we do as going 'to the edge.' Some may even think we've fallen off the edge! I'd like to assure them that where the gospel message about Jesus is preached faithfully, God is at work in people's lives. That's what our task as a church is all about isn't it?

feed. - logoWe want to reach those not normally reached by traditional churches because 'traditional church' is unattractive to this segment of the community – hence the subtitle under 'feed' is 'Church done differently'.

There certainly is potential for 'feed.' to be 'duplicated' in other places around the world. We'd be very happy to see a multiplication of gospel-centred ministries that follow the same format as feed. In fact, I understand that when the feed logo was developed as feed. (with a full stop), it was done so deliberately so that feed. in other places around the world could be easily identified. We describe ourselves as 'feed.methven' but potentially you could have 'feed.aspen' etc, etc.

The idea was that feed. fresh expressions of church could be planted all around the world. At the moment, as I'm just coming to the end of my first winter season here, I'm just trying to keep things going locally before taking any action in promoting the idea globally – except through the people who come.

feed. - tableFeed. really is a church in its own right. We also run a more traditional morning church in Methven, but it doesn't mean that the people who come in the evening are any different from those who come in the morning; they both get the same spiritual food (my sermons are the same, although adapted to suit the audience). We don't expect people to 'graduate' to traditional church, they are already are 'in church'.

However I must admit that, in many ways, feed. is a 'church growing in maturity' and perhaps – as we mature – we may see it introduce some things you may also expect in a more traditional church setting, like singing for example. Nonetheless, seeing feed. – which attracts the unchurched –  also challenges us to think about how we do 'traditional' church so that our morning services are more open and welcoming to newcomers!

It helps us to think through why we do the things we do in relation to the task of reaching the unreached. It seems that the 'traditional' style of church unhelpfully hinders the unchurched, so we need to think differently – without compromising what we are all about, namely the preaching and teaching of the Word of God.


Andy MilneChurch Army evangelist Captain Andy Milne first launched Sorted in 2004. As a keen skateboarder he got to know the area's young skaters, many of whom went on to become founder members of the youth church in north Bradford. Now skateboarding is just one of many activities they enjoy every week, explains Andy.

We meet on Monday, Tuesday and Friday nights, and we'll see an average of 100 young people during that time. About 25 to 30 get together for the Monday youth congregation from 7.15 to 9pm but they are very active and help set up the equipment and run the whole thing really – including worship, teaching, prayer, and activities in between. The age range is 13 to 20.

On Tuesday night, we meet in a different place – at the Salvation Army – and have five different groups with anything up to 35 people there. Each group is led by two young people. Sometimes there is a discussion around a Bible passage and sometimes they work on a fund raising project but the idea is to try and provide a place where they can really talk about their faith and what they can do with that faith. It's more discipleship focused. When they get involved in leadership it really helps their understanding. If they run it themselves, they really own it and the energy triples.

Sorted - thumbs upFridays will see us have a testimony, short talk for about five minutes and then different activities in the various rooms. Last year we asked the young people what they wanted to do at this session. We have to be facilitators in it – otherwise they are going to get bored. There's quite a wide age range for this one, it's about 11 to 20, and the older teens run it with some adults as well. We can get 40 or 50 people coming to that.

One room is used for things like live music sessions; there is also a café with a tuckshop, and games on offer like softball and table tennis. We have people doing dj-ing with mixing and that sort of stuff. It's amazing when you look back to see how things have grown since were first given use of a portakabin in the grounds of a school. Some of the young people have been coming to us ever since.

What tends to happen is that kids come through their friends or schools to Friday evening sessions because it's very open, accessible to anyone. Then they get to know people and when there is a bit more trust they tend to move into the other two groups.

Sorted - footballWhen we started, one of the ways I was able to build relationships was through the skateboarding but it's quite a small part now. It has been good to see a lot of young people come from very different backgrounds to be part of this and I have been privileged to witness young people having experiences of God on a Monday night, come to faith and develop into leaders and disciples.

Some local churches realised they hadn't got the resources to do something similar themselves but felt they could support something that's Kingdom work by allowing us to use their buildings. They show their support for us in practical ways.

We are in the process of setting up Sorted 2 about a mile-and-a-half up the road because we realised that about 80% of those in Sorted 1 were from the same school of around 1200 pupils. The second school in the area is the sixth largest secondary in the country with about 1800 students but it is currently being extended so will be even bigger. It is multicultural and multiracial.

Sorted - micThere was a real sense that God was asking us to go there. Then one lady had a picture of God giving us a key, opening up something that hadn't been open for some time. People were amazed when we were then invited to go in. As a result we started working with youngsters there and developing groups. We now see about 30 young people every week in Sorted 2. It’s a massive thing for us.

In the last year, a Church Army team has been drawn together to oversee the whole thing. People from local churches also act as adult volunteers for each Sorted, and it all makes a tremendous difference because the work through the schools is growing all the time.

Another exciting development for us is to be granted a Bishop's Mission Order. It means we are now seen as being on an equal footing with other churches and it also clarifies what Sorted is all about in this part of Bradford. The BMO was first mentioned about three years ago when it was noted that Sorted is not a seedbed for something else or an extension to another church. It's a church in its own right.

Sorted - baptismThat could clearly be seen earlier this year when six of our teenagers were baptised by the then Bishop of Bradford, Rt Revd David James, in the River Wharfe. A further five then joined them to be confirmed and take Communion by the side of the river in Ilkley. We find that the young people often have an experience of God before they follow him. Rather than a gradual intellectual process, they often have an encounter with God and begin to make sense of it later.

Going back to where it all started, I have now written a book about skateboarding called The Skateboarders Guide to God in which I try to connect the Gospel with skateboarding mentality and language. I hope to get it published so that it may possibly help others along the way.

Sorted - graffiti

Street Church

Street Church - serviceStreet Church in Northampton welcomes up to 90 vulnerable and homeless people at its weekly get-togethers. David Bird describes how Christians from various denominations work together in developing the work and ministry of this growing fresh expression of church.

Our early experience of homeless people here at St Giles involved them coming along to Alpha courses for the free food before disappearing pretty quickly. They'd also turn up on the doorstep of the vicarage and I would have a chat with them. At one point, a guy came along with a spiritual understanding of God who asked me to pray for him; at that point I knew that I had to do more than offer him a cup of tea and a sandwich.

A member of the congregation is involved with the Hope Centre, a project that serves what is quite a large homeless community in the Northampton area. When one of the community died, it was a social services funeral and none of the rest of the people who knew him from the streets had any idea when it was or what had happened.

They wanted to have some sort of memorial service and the Hope Centre volunteer asked if I would go in and do something for them. About 50 people turned up to that. It wasn't a recognisable service as such, but we played his favourite music, talked about what he was like as a person, and they lit candles to remember him.

Street Church - meetingA lot of homeless people find Sunday the most difficult day of the week because there is nothing open specifically for them so we got together with other churches to arrange a weekly Street Church drop-in service from 1.30pm to about 3pm. It takes place at the Salvation Army Northampton Central Corps community hall, and the majority of helpers are from St Giles but there are also people from Kingdom Life New Frontiers International Church, the Salvation Army, the Roman Catholic Church, and another Anglican Church. Each takes it in turn to provide the all-important catering.

We use multi-media material from The Work of the People, an American organisation which highlights Christian issues – usually through visual images rather than words. There is very little 'preaching' as such, it's more a case of sharing testimonies and stories but a lot of it is one-to-one relational stuff. We also invite guests to come along and sing to us as performance worship. Some of the homeless have got musical gifts too so they're also getting more involved in that now.

Street Church - manicureEvery six weeks or so we offer pampering when people get their nails and hair cut. Some prostitutes also come in and we do their nails too, just to serve them and show that we care.

Street Church began in Easter 2008, and some of the people later started coming to our traditional church service in the evening as well. One man who did that now wants to be baptised. I have been quite precious about it in some ways because it feels like something that is both the work of God and a tender plant. The direction we want to take it in is to help these vulnerable people get a lot more stability in their lives, and set up mentoring for a number of individuals.

As ever, money plays a key role because the project is being run entirely by volunteers at the moment though we have recently applied for a grant for a part-time worker. It is nothing like church as many would think of church. You can't ask our regulars to give by Direct Debit for example, and that means it will never be self-supporting. Instead we see it as part of our mission to Northampton, our church supports it and other churches support it in that way.

Street Church - dogIt is tough work but worth it because there is a huge mix of people at Street Church. Some of those are kids thrown out of their own homes by their families; they can be into drink or drugs so that can be quite difficult. There is a guy called Dancing Joe who always turns up smartly dressed though a bit 'crinkled' round the edges, and there are quite a few Eastern Europeans who have had jobs in the past but are now sleeping rough.

One of our volunteers is an ex-Army guy, and he deals with a number of men who have come out of the forces and – for one reason or another – just can't cope.

I often say that many of the homeless we deal with are no different than anyone else; it's just that their sin and their weakness are much more obvious than other people's. Those who come to faith at Street Church and begin to sort their lives out often say they no longer want to be part of the community because they are keen to move on. That's understandable but some have remained and carried on helping as volunteers and that's a very powerful message to those who come. It says, 'just because I live on the streets doesn't mean I will always live on the streets. Just because I haven't got my life sorted out now doesn't mean that it will always be that way.' It gives them hope.

The Terminus Initiative

Methodist pioneering minister Joy Adams explains how her fresh expression of church began life in a butchers shop in the local bus terminus. The result was the Terminus Initiative – an ecumenical Christian community.

The Terminus Initiative started out as a community café in an ex-butcher’s shop at a bus terminus. From the beginning we sought to be a loving response to the needs of the local 'Lowedges' Estate community in Sheffield.

Terminus - AGMIt was initially conceived out of unmet needs of a 'mission audit' completed by a local Methodist Church. To complete this, we went out into the estate to ask questions about what people thought the needs were. The most significant finding of the survey, was that local people thought the church was irrelevant and had nothing to contribute. One of the greatest needs that people did identify was the need for a drop-in for older people to be able to come to meet people and socialise in safety, and also a place for younger people. At that time the estate was known for being a rough place with problems with drugs and anti-social behaviour. This coincided with an offer from the owner of the butcher's shop to the Methodist church, to use it for something to help the community. I was asked if I would assist in the exploration of potential solutions to the meeting of these needs and sought other agencies to see if there were any opportunities for partnerships to be able to take on the shop for mission and ministry. So the vision for a community café gradually emerged.

Terminus - Joy AdamsI was one of the founding members of the initiative, as I was involved with it in the early days of my training for Methodist ministry. I quickly discerned that God was asking me to stay with the Terminus Initiative, which at the time was completely against the usual expectation of Methodist itinerant ministry. So I kept this discernment to myself (not even telling my husband) waiting for it to be confirmed by someone else to test it. Within a few weeks, our Superintendent Minister at the time, Ian Bell, asked me if I would consider staying on and co-ordinating the Initiative, but that there would be no money for a stipend. As I had retired early on a pension from the National Health Service, I decided I could cope, and committed to it.

Terminus - prayer dayThe Terminus Initiative is now in its eighth year. The café is open three days a week, targeting different groups in need, and the premises are used by other community groups when the café is closed. The Terminus Initiative, with its other projects, has supported asylum seekers, refugees, drug users, people with alcohol addictions, people with mental health needs, young people, and older people. In fact there are many social activities going on all the time including discussions/Bible studies, and prayer underpins it all.

Terminus - Women's conversation clubIn the many partnerships we have, we focus on the spiritual needs of those who come into the Terminus building. We hope that the work of the Initiative has challenged people's perception of the church as 'irrelevant', replacing negative stereotypes with a greater respect for Christianity and the Church. We have seen many people seeking to explore the Christian faith coming out of the community and loving service they have experienced at the Terminus. Many of these people have gone on to discipleship groups of the partner churches, as we seek to be a committed local 'mixed economy' of church finding unity of purpose in mission.

The Terminus Initiative is a good example of what can be done regarding fresh expressions of church, when local churches work together and get their hands dirty.

Terminus - TedTed's story

Having been brought up in the Methodist Church, at the age of 15 I decided there was no such thing as a 'God'. My life from then was based on the scientific method. Proof and disproof were at the roots of my beliefs and actions. There was no room for things that could not be recognised by any of the physical senses. There was no room for faith in how I made my life decisions. For 50 years I conducted my life according to those principles, even though I rarely made a sound decision in all that time.

In 2006 I moved to a new home. Two weeks after moving in I went into hospital for a hip replacement. When I came out I was alone and unable to move very well. I did my weekly shopping on the internet. I saw no one, I felt down and lonely. So much so that one day I decided to hobble up to the local shops where I found the Terminus Café. Over the following weeks and months I made lots of new friends. I was still an atheist at this time even though most of the people with whom I had become friendly were Christians.

Towards Christmas 2007 I was asked if I would like to go to the Terminus Café Christmas Party to be held at a local church. I enjoyed the party, even if I felt a little uncomfortable during prayers. After the meal, I met someone who told me that on Tuesday afternoons a Fellowship meeting was held in the church. It was a friendly event lasting about an hour.

I began attending the Fellowship meetings early in 2008, at first with some apprehension but after a month or so I began to relax and I noticed I was starting to enjoy the songs we sung. The prayers began to be less of a problem for me and I began taking notice of the message the speakers were offering. A lady in the Fellowship group told me she was to be baptised and asked me to support her by coming to the service. I hadn't been to a church service in 50 years but said I would attend, which I did.

During the service a thought struck me – I remember it clearly. 'My way of thinking should apply to how I explain God's universe'. It then dawned on me that I had become a Christian. God's universe is his creation and he has given me the privilege of being able to understand little bits of it! The little bits of the universe that I understand have helped me to make my living and now I can use that understanding to give praise to God for the magnificence of his creation.

It has taken many years of study to reach a mature view of those parts of the universe that I know a little bit about. Whereas, I have accepted Jesus as my Saviour, as a child would accept by faith all that a parent has told them. Faith is hope in the future. Hope by faith is how I have gained an inner joy and contentment believing that my life has been saved by Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. I have turned from my sins to my Lord God, having been proud and following my own path. Now I ask him to guide me, to show me the way I must go to walk in Jesus' footsteps.