Alnwick Baptist Church, Alnwick, Northumbria
Chris & Caroline Friend, co-pastors at Alnwick Baptist Church, have been taking part in ‘Love It or List It’, a Channel 4 property programme featuring Phil Spencer and Kirstie Alsopp. Hospitality was a major part of Chris & Caroline’s home improvement brief and Rural Ministries was delighted to be able to provide a large dining table as part of the programme. Chris picks up the story.
So, are you going to Love It or List It?? That’s the question, and you’ll find out the answer in the not-too-distant future. I can definitely tell you what we won’t be listing though and that’s our 3-metre farmhouse table which we eventually managed to get into our house through mathematical equations and savvy joiners and now takes the central place in our kitchen. Central not just because it’s a sizable piece of furniture but central because of the priority and place of hospitality that we want to foster in our now reconfigured home. This table is old and has the marks to prove it but, both Caroline and I love that because hundreds of people have sat round it, eaten from it and told stories. It has witnessed laughter and tears in equal measure. The marks on this table speak to a history of family, friends and community.
In our last MOSAIC update, Caroline shared with you our desire to see more missional communities across our town and locality. In part, this is because our pioneering bent is to see church growing beyond walls and within homes, a safe place to meet, to do shared lives, to eat together and meet Jesus through a narrative of integrity and authenticity. Some of you will have heard of Barbara Glasson who started Bread Church in Liverpool and she wrote a book about what she’d learned during that time. In one paragraph that hit me right between the eyes she wrote of church: “The image we engage with is less of a ‘sheepfold’ - where all may be ‘safely gathered in’ - but a ‘watering hole’ that people may visit and leave refreshed. If it is the case that we are a place where people can enter and leave as they need
then there is a built-in instability in the community. This can challenge our sense of safety. Our church instinct tends to want to gather people in and keep them. Postmodern society tends to configure gathering in a different way. People are wary of being trapped. They need to see their exits. If people are free to leave it seems they are more likely to stay”. Wow! Church as a watering hole. It sounds like a new idea but it’s really a simple biblical perspective. Jesus in a foreign place meets a foreign woman at an unfamiliar well and asks the question ‘will you give me a drink?’. Dialogue starts. Woman is drawn to Jesus as the Living Well. Woman spreads the word. Family and friends discover Jesus for themselves.
This is how Caroline and I want our table to speak of; a place of refreshing; conversation starting; Jesus revealing; lives changing. We want this table to be a table of replenishment for both body and soul. We hope and pray that there will be many stories to tell over the years and that Good News will run like a thread throughout our table tenure.
Find out if Chris & Caroline Love It or List It in the Channel 4 series starting in January 2022.