Suffolk Fresh Expressions Community (Lightwave)
What is Lightwave?
Lightwave is the new name for the Suffolk Fresh Expressions community: All over the county of Suffolk, there are churches with services each Sunday. Lightwave is a Christian community, meeting in small groups in homes, pubs, offices, schools and other places which works alongside more traditional ways of doing church. The name comes from the idea of lightwaves being the way in which light spreads into dark places. Lightwave is committed to shining the light of Jesus in Suffolk through acts of kindness and practical service as well as worship and witness.
Lightwave groups do the essential things of church - but in a whole variety of different ways, suited to the needs of their members and the context of a small group who get to know each other well. So there are no sermons - but we read the bible and try to put it into practice in our lives. There may be no singing (unless the members are musical) but we find other ways to worship and pray for each other and our local community. We eat together and share the Christ-focused meal often called “communion” or the eucharist. We have fun, support each other and try to put faith to work in practical care for friends and neighbours and the most needy in our society. Each group is part of the great wave of God’s love which brings light to our county.
Who can be part of Lightwave?
Anyone who wants to join one of our small groups. You do not need to be a Christian or have faith to be part of Lightwave - if you’d like to explore with us what it means to experience and speak God’s light in our communities that is enough. Having said that, many Lightwave members are also very active members of another church (most often Church of England but other kinds too) and find that being part of a Lightwave group helps them with the everyday putting faith into practice. Others would not be part of a church at all if it were not for Lightwave. Lightwave enable those who cannot get to a Sunday Service to be fully included in a community based on Christian faith. Our aim is also that people who find Sunday worship too formal or structured for them, especially younger generations and those unused to traditional forms of church, will find Lightwave to be somewhere where they can find friends to explore the journey of faith with them. Sometimes our gatherings are called “fresh expressions of Church” because they express what Church is in a fresh way.
What happens in a Lightwave group?
They’re all different - but most meet weekly and follow a typical pattern:
Welcome - time to chat and generally "catch up" over coffee or a meal. At some point an ice-breaker question or activity introduces the theme of the meeting. This gives everyone a chance to join in and gives a relaxed feel to the group.
Worship - time to focus on God and become aware of his presence, giving thanks, leaving behind the business of our day, and allowing him to touch and refresh us and realign our will to his.
Word - This is the Bible Bit. We typically use discussion and activities to help us understand a passage or a subject . Our emphasis is practical - what difference will what we learn make to our lives?
Witness - Showing God’s love for our friends and neighbours. This includes praying for the needs of people, giving practical help and providing opportunities for people who want to explore faith. Many lightwave groups will be the team for a fresh expression of Church such as Messy Church or Cafe Church which provides these opportunities.
Lightwave groups have a lot of fun together - barbeques, bonfires, Traidcraft parties, children's events, youth lazerquest, bowling or cinema. These are great times to invite friends and neighbours who might not normally feel comfortable to get involved with church events. Three times a year, a county-wide worship and teaching event called ‘The Gathering’ gives all the small groups the opportunity to meet together.
“The most important commandment,” said Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.””Mark 12.29-31
These commandment reflect Jesus’ values - what was important to him: - a high view of God, a high view of others, a high view of ourselves, and sacrificial love. We believe that these values can be used to set a life-giving framework in which people can grow, and help others to do the same. In Lightwave, they are reflected in a simple “rule of life” for the small groups:-
All Involved - Everyone is included and valued, whoever they are. Everyone has a role to play.
Becoming Disciples - The purpose of the group is to encourage us to love and live more like Jesus.
Creating Community - We will “be real” with each other - honest about the things we go through ourselves and to respond in a loving way to each other. Caring for each other enables us to care for our wider community too.
Doing Evangelism - Being as well as telling good news together. Giving other people the opportunity to learn about Jesus (Not everybody likes the word ”evangelism” but really it is just about being the very best of good news for people in what we do and say - so we think it is important to understand this word - it does not involve bible-bashing!)
Encountering God - Meeting with God It is God who helps us and changes us.
On the right you can find a download called “Being Real Being Light” which is an introductory course to take a group through this simple “rule” explore how this can help them to “be real” and “be light” in everyday life.
Over time we will add videos of Lightwave groups and their fresh expressions of Church in action.
This initiative is the result of the partnership of the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich with Rural Ministries.
Lightwave Launch on Pentecost Sunday
On Pentecost Sunday the 9 June, Bishops Martin and Mike will be travelling all over the county visiting community and outreach events organised by small mission groups of people with a heart for mission. The events are being organised by mission groups of people with a heart for mission. Events so far include a boating experience (with baptisms), a tea party and a campfire. A series of bible study and prayer notes for small groups seeking to organise such an event are available.
The day will end with a fabulous all-age service at St Edmundsbury Cathedral at 4.00pm.
If your group would like to organise such an event or if you would like to be baptised by a bishop on Pentecost Sunday, please get in touch with Archdeacon Sally Gaze to find out more details. Tel 01473 635113 or email email@example.com.
It is open to Christians of any denomination or stream.
Facebook Group: Suffolk Fresh Expressions