Tiny churches the way to go

the gathering

The Gathering evolved a few years ago from a handful of like-minded friends who used to meet and share their common belief in their homes.

The Gathering, which meets in a hall the South Canterbury town of Temuka has no leader, no service plan and just a couple of acoustic guitars.

About 30 people attend the non-denominational gathering regularly, the youngest was four and the oldest over 80.

Members discuss aspects of the Bible, with everyone having the opportunity to share their views.

Founded on the Bible verse 1 Corinthians 14.26, which talks about Christians getting together sharing hymns, words of instruction and revelation, to build up the church, it has drawn a dedicated group of worshippers.

In a reflection of first-century Christians’ behaviour The Gathering shares lunch after their service too.

At the cost of $25 an hour (including power) for the pipe band hall rental, the new church has no other overheads other than blackcurrant juice and a little bread for communion.

In contrast, St Mary’s Anglican in Timaru, the projected lighting and heating budget for this year is $11,604, to heat the spaces between the resplendent Oamaru stone walls and ornate arches, propped up by Welsh marble pillars.

Its heaters are turned on each week at 2.30 am in preparation for services, at a cost of about $30 an hour. The church’s overall projected budget for 2019 is $212,169.

Presbyterian minister Reverend Brent Richardson sees The Gathering as one of many groups being innovative but predicts that as it grew and became more sophisticated it would likely need an administrator to cope with the workload.

“As it grows it requires money to keep going. The only way to avoid that is by remaining small.”

Being purposefully stunted defeated the purpose of a church with its mission to share the gospel and increase its numbers, Richardson said.


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News category: New Zealand.

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