In 2003 Southlands started in Horley, Surrey. God called a small group of friends together to be a base for the gospel here. Back then, they called themselves Covenant Community Church International, or 3Ci.
The passion was to show the love of God and of Jesus Christ, in word and action, Sunday through Saturday. Because of a desire to see this church influence areas beyond Horley, the church changed its name to Southlands in 2004.
Over the past 7 years, the church has moved on down the road. It has been quite an eventful journey actually. We are now around 150 people, including 60 children and teenagers. We have moved venues several times. Our home from 2007 to 2011 was an old office building we renovated in Salfords, north of Horley. The chapter there came to a fiery end when arsonists burnt the building down. But we are strong, and have come through the flames.
We have been blessed to have so many diverse people join with us, from businessmen, plumbers, farmers, decorators, preachers, musicians, mothers, IT boffins, teachers and the like. On the journey, we have become really multi-national too! We have also been living out the call of old, and members have in their own worlds been ministering in areas such as helps and care ministries into schools, new mothers’ lives, vulnerable children and broken homes. However, we all like to see it differently to more traditional views of “ministry” – each believer IS a minister, called to be “salt and light” (effective!) in his or her world. We get together to celebrate a good God, to hear His word and then to go and put it into practice.
Strengths that have held us together
Southlands Church is growing in the gospel. We feel our greatest features are things like:
- Deep covenant bonds. There are genuine gospel friendships, many longstanding
- Caring community. When the chips are down, the heart is there to bind up the broken hearted
- Prophetic heart. Deep in this church is a prophetic passion. It is rising up
- Responsive to challenging preaching. We are no sermon sippers or a church that only wants to be ‘stroked’. We don’t “Bible bash” but we do believe that the gospel needs to change our hearts, minds and motives! We want to enter heaven and hear God say, “Well done!”
- Skills and talents. We really do have “many parts” to this one body
- Committed to Biblical ways of “doing church”. We have a “relational approach” to ministry – we want to be friends and show God’s power through love. We don’t have a “positional approach” – where we can be like cogs in a machine, and where leaders have authority because of their title,. Not their friendship with Jesus. that we know will produce massive fruit long term (this is explained more fully in later sections)
- Witness in the world. We have key people in key places in this region of the UK
Our story right now
What is it that GOD is doing and teaching us?
A deeper learning community. We are becoming hungrier for truth, to know God, to learn from wisdom and the wise. We have realized that only truth sets us free. No matter how good the motive, we don’t want to see “ministers” crashing and burning. We know that anything we do without love is a waste of time, so we need His truth to unlock our hearts. In this, we are growing our trust in preaching, and a willingness to be “disciples”, or learners. We do NOT want to be a church that only feeds on vogue messages and has our ears tickled, rather we want to be “equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17)
Greater sensitivity to a Ghost. To the “Holy Ghost”. Jesus left this planet, but He didn’t leave us alone. Every person has spirit within them, but we need the Holy Spirit to live out the life of Jesus. We can’t do it just by the ink on our Bible pages! Someone once said, “If you gave me Shakespeare’s plays to read and then said, write plays like this, I couldn’t do that. But if the spirit of Shakespeare came into me, then I could! So, when the Spirit of Jesus comes into you, you can have power to walk like Jesus, more and more each day. So, we have learned not to celebrate the public meetings at the expens eof our private lives and walk with the Holy Spirit. That would be pointless! Why would we want to have a public show without private power? Jesus said that kind of religion is a “white-washed tomb” (look at Matthew 23:27)!
Greater levels of joy. Joy is a first fruit of receiving the Holy Spirit (look at Galatians 5:22). Joy makes us strong! Who would join a church with no joy? There is so much suffering and sadness in the world already. We know that we also suffer in many ways, but we have a source of joy, and we also know that we have a place in heaven, no matter when or how we die!
Tested and strengthened foundations. A house is only as good as its foundations. Most people love to see high-rises, but we want to make sure every saint has a good foundation – a solid belief and knowledge of God as He really is. Someone once said, knowing leads to being leads to doing. We need to know the God we claim to follow and serve!