Suffolk Fresh Expressions Community (Lightwave)
Bishop Martin and Bishop Mike journeyed across Suffolk on Sunday 9 June, visiting St Christopher’s Primary School, Red Lodge, Euston Rural Pastimes county fair, All Saints' Church, Thorndon, St Nicholas' Church, Rattlesden, St Ethelbert’s Church, Hessett, Thorpeness, St Luke’s Church, Beccles, IIketshall St Lawrence Primary School and St Felix Church, Rendlesham. This event concluded with the Catching the Fire Service at St Edmundsbury Cathedral, when over 500 people gathered to celebrate Pentecost and the launch of Lightwave where Lightwave groups were commissioned. For full details of the event please click here.
"It was brilliant and God’s presence was tangible. So wonderful to see all ages involved and all traditions too". Sarah Lock (Lightwave social media group).
"The service was spine-tingling in its presentation and in the expectancy of the new Fresh Expressions Groups. It’s very exciting to be a Christian in Suffolk at the moment" David Mulrenan (Lightwave social media group).
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.
If you would like to join your group to Lightwave please complete the form below:
Lightwave Group Application form | Pdf
Support for Lightwave groups
Small Missional Grants - Lightwave groups can apply for up to £100 for a specific mission activity the group is involved with. It could be for tablecloths or other resources to help set up a café church, or maybe booklets to give away as part of an event. The more inventive the idea the better!
Small Mission Grant application form | Docx
Rural Outreach Worker Funding - Lightwave groups can also apply for funding for a Rural Outreach Worker for up to one day a week to support outreach and evangelism from their Lightwave Group. The funding is specifically designed to help workers already working in Lightwave groups to grow rural outreach and evangelism initiatives which they have begun as volunteers.
If you are interested in applying for either of these grants then please complete the application forms above. If you would like more information please contact either Andrew Gosden (Lightwave Project Manager) firstname.lastname@example.org or call him on 07711 753312. All requests for funding will be considered at the Bishop's Mission Order (Lightwave Community) Board and meet once every other month.
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.
If you are considering joining Lightwave please get in touch – no matter where you are on your journey we’d love to have a chat and explore new possibilities. Contact Sally Gaze, Archdeacon for Rural Mission, on email@example.com
Facebook Group: Suffolk Fresh Expressions
This initiative is the result of the partnership of the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich with Rural Ministries.
It is open to Christians of any denomination or stream.