biographyCauseway Coast Vineyard,planted in 1999 by Alan and Kathryn Scott, is a community drenched with creative approaches to doing church, with miracles on the high street, wall-breaking worship and God in the nightclub. I met up with the Scotts in their Starbucks office to find out more, and it didn’t take long to realise that you can get more than barista service at their local coffee shop as Alan explained how a guy was healed of a saliva problem there that morning. “Non-Christians just wanna know, 'Does it work?' It’s like if you came to my house and I was in my boxer shorts. You’d go 'It’s too intimate mate, I’ll just leave and not come back'. When you‘ve guests over you change how you live. So two minutes of time for healing, they can really cope with that.”
Kathryn recalls that when they started the locals were suspicious. “Some people thought we were a cult, ‘cause we were meeting in a living room. This is Northern Ireland. Everybody knows what church is supposed to look like, and it sure as heck doesn’t look like that!" So it wasn’t it wasn’t a dream start, but in another way it was. “I had two dreams, real dreams, where I was asleep. Those are my favourite times.” Both of those dreams featured the locations where the Scotts were to host the church plant, the first a pub function room in nearby Portstewart, the second a redundant department store.
Two years into the church, the Scotts were dissatisfied, the teaching and worship were solid, but the New Testament’s accounts of radical healing and salvation weren’t being replicated. So, as Alan explained, “That’s when we did the healing on the streets thing; its not really working in the church, lets take it onto the streets. Only the Irish are like that… Its clearly not working, let’s take it public!”
The risk paid off and the ‘Healing On The Streets’ ministry began in 2005 spearheaded by Mark Marx. When Mark isn’t on the road, he’s down at the town square with a chair and people hungry for healing. “About three weeks after we started here in Coleraine, we ended up on the front cover of the major paper ‘The Chronicle’. The headline was 'Miracles on Our Streets' with a photograph of me holding up a walking stick.” In Coleraine alone, people have walked from their wheelchairs or been delivered of cancers and blindness. The healings run into the hundreds, and now 600 churches across Europe are doing it. But for Mark that’s not even the best bit. “We’re seeing people coming to the chairs not just for healing but to surrender their lives to God. That’s just the most exciting thing!”
Dave Pavey is the head of children’s church and is passionate that “Healing isn’t just for the grown-ups.” He shared that each week their 5s-11s spend 10-15 minutes praying for the sick. “Literally last Sunday we saw a girl healed of a fractured metatarsal... On crutches, foot in plaster. The kids prayed and she felt tingling and throbbing in her foot. She went to the doctors and they can’t find a fracture. Amazing!”
Evenings often find youth worker Neil Young in town with a mix of teenagers from both church and street. It’s about building rapport, being Jesus. “Jesus is as relevant today as he was 2,000 years ago. Tons of them now have no problem with Jesus; they see Him as cool. You know social justice is pretty hot with kids nowadays. But they see the church as inactive and Christians as judgemental. We wanna see that change.”
It comes as no surprise that a church founded by Kathryn Scott (whose current focus is on crafting new worship material) would attract worshippers. Current Causeway church members include Tre & Tori Sheppard (formerly of band 100Hours), Joanne Hogg from the group Iona and Andy Rogers who is committed to ‘guerrilla’ worship i.e. taking worship to unconventional places.
Causeway's open-handed take on Christian living isn’t simply refreshing, it’s vital. Ultimately, people believe it when they experience it. Neil put it like this: “Jesus said go to the poor, go to hungry, go to those poor in spirit, the crushed and oppressed. He doesn’t say do it and your church will grow, he just says 'Go!' This is the only word you need to remember. One syllable. One command. Go. Church has left the building.”
Article by Jon Lambert. Edited by Melissa Wiggins.
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