The Well started meeting in 2017, but it’s roots go much deeper. Here are some reflections from Chad, (leader of the Core Team) in November 2019…
In 2007, not long after our Parish had been formed, I picked up an old brick that was lying in overgrown rubble on a patch of land that was soon to become new houses (John Clarke Way, Rushden). I used to pray there regularly, it was a place of deep peace. I took the brick home and prayed that one day God would build something in that part of our town, where there was no regular Church presence.
A few years later, in 2013, a group of us prayer walked around the northern part of our parish for 7 days in a row, and then 7 times on the 7th day (just like Jericho). On the last day I went back to the patch of land where I had picked up the brick. I noticed some very large old stones (‘Coins’) from a building that must have been demolished several decades earlier. I used the stones (weighing about 30kg each) to build a large symbolic well. I took off my shoes and socks, stood amongst the rubble, and prayed that one day it would be a place for people to come and drink from the well of salvation.
In the years that led up to these significant moments of prayer, small groups had been meeting to serve the community in that part of town. Clearing gardens, helping families to move house, meeting people and getting to know the community. For example, one of our Whitefriars Church Stepping Out groups called ‘Denfield Community Services’ (also known as ‘Love Rushden’) had been meeting regularly to pray, serve and eat together. A few people had even felt called to buy houses in the northern part of Rushden. There was an increasing sense that God was bringing people together.
In January 2017 a small group started meeting regularly to pray and talk about what might be possible. We were feeling called to stop bungee jumping in and out of the northern part of the Parish for missional activities, but to settle and live a missional lifestyle throughout the week. The following June, at the Growth Action Plan Day (Whitefriars Church Vision), we felt affirmed that the timing was right to step out in faith, and that we should be like a satellite that is not tethered, but still orbits the main body of the Church.
Nine months after we had started praying more intensively, in September 2017, our brothers and sisters at Whitefriars Church prayed for a group of us that felt called to go – and we were sent out on mission. We stopped worshipping regularly in the Junior School Hall along with the rest of the Church, and started worshipping in people’s homes. When numbers started to grow we moved to the Goods’ Shed (part of Rushden Station), and then the King Edward pub on Queen Street. When the King Eddie closed in September 2019 we moved back in to people’s homes and now use a variety of venues for smaller and larger worship gatherings.
There were originally 21 of us (including children), this has grown to over 40 people in the first 2 years. We don’t have any complicated outreach programmes, the growth has come from people simply inviting their friends, family and neighbours to hang out with us and see God. We don’t have any paid staff, everything is led by volunteers. We don’t have a P.A. system, it is likely that we will multiply when we get to the size that requires one. Our worship services are very simple, which allows lots of time and energy for having a community banquet every time we meet. We don’t have a specific children’s or youth ministry, all the Sunday worship and teaching is all-age appropriate. During Sunday gatherings the children might have an age appropriate activity while the adults have a discussion, but this all happens in the same ‘family space’. Deeper adult bible teaching and extended worship happens throughout the week (about 95% of our adults are part of a midweek discipleship group).
Alongside these organised groups are lots of opportunities to meet up organically for food and fellowship. Almost every week there are impromptu gatherings of people that meet up to pray, worship and hang out together. All of this requires time, it cannot simply be bolted on to a busy Church programme or personal diary. For example, before our morning worship starts, people are invited to one hour of extra prayer and worship, where we create a space for the Holy Spirit to move freely without the time restrictions of the relatively short family orientated worship later in the morning.
God is doing something amazing amongst us, so we come together to listen and pray. We come, ready to serve and use our gifts. We come, to receive God’s love, freely and fully. We come, full of anticipation that God will meet us at The Well.