"What is God saying to me and what am I going to do in response?”
How Crossgates Community is deepening faith through regular connection and conversation
Crossgates Community is a small group of generally new Christians in east Leeds. It has been gathering for around three years, and leaders Jonathan and Kären Gray are supported by Revive Baptist Church, also in Leeds.
The community has followed the Biglife discipleship model since Easter 2020 – Biglife is a disciple making movement that seeks to empower believers worldwide to reach and disciple their own – and it’s ‘transformed our faith,’ says Kären (pictured fourth from right).
Kären became more aware of Biglife through Peter Dunn, the former Director of Mission at BMS World Mission, who became Biglife European Director in 2019. His role is shared between Biglife and the Yorkshire Baptist Association (YBA).
Peter organised a learning visit to India just before the pandemic to enable folk to see how Biglife operates there (India has seen thousands become followers of Jesus). Kären was part of the group.
“I went to India expecting to be encouraged - not to completely change what we are doing,” she says. “I know India is a very different culture, but I just wanted to try it when we got back. The direction we are coming from has flipped on its head.”
One key aspect is the Three-Thirds format that Big Life groups adopt when they meet:
Look back: expressing your love for God, picking up on how folk have been able to put into practice learnings from the previous meeting
Look up: a Discovery Bible Study where you look up to God and listen to him speak through his word as you reflect on four simple questions.
Look forward: ask God what we need to do as a result of reading his word and listening to him.
“At its core it asks: what is God saying to me and what am I going to do in response?” explains Kären.
“So when we come back together, the first thing we're asking is: so how did you get on? People are coming expecting to share. And if someone says no, I haven't really had a very good conversation this week, there's no pressure.
“The whole structure seems to encourage people to have a go and to learn in the doing.”
She says this has resulted in ‘amazing growth in faith and confidence with our community’. For instance, after four baptisms in October, they started two groups for new seekers.
Biglife is keen to share where people are, and this is another change. Prior to her Indian visit, Karen said she was still trying to attract people to something, even if that something was less than formal than a traditional Sunday morning church service. “Now, I think what we're saying is: how can we help people find out about Jesus wherever they are? If you’re interested, can we come to you?”
Kären admits to being quite sceptical at first. Over the years she and Jonathan have led several new expressions of church, as well as being part of larger ones.
“We’ve helped a lot of people but ultimately not seen a consistent community develop and grow.
“Now it feels like we're at the beginning of something new that is rippling across the country.”
Images | Kären Gray