Questions and Answers
We are working on answers to additional questions that have come up in recent months. Stay tuned, we will post those asap.
May 2015 – Additional Q & As added (Q38 onwards)
Here are answers to some of the common questions. We’ll continue to expand this Q&A as we receive more of your questions. If you haven’t already, please complete the Anonymous Feedback Survey.
- What is the vision? Why are we undertaking such a big building project?
The vision of the Busbridge and Hambledon Church community is to bring the nation to Christ, by Loving God, Making Disciples and Transforming Communities. This requires resources. We have worked with inadequate buildings and site for many years. This new building project is a clear step to enabling that vision
- How will it benefit the local community, schools, and the church?
The project will include an auditorium, hall and flexible rooms, bringing clear new availability and opportunity to many local groups. We are working closely with the schools to ensure we plan for things they need but cannot provide on their premises.
- How long will the whole project take and when can we start?
Work has already started in assessing all of the options for a new church site, in response to growing congregations. We will have more detailed information on project timeline once we have gone through the planning stages with the local authority.
- Will the existing church still be used and what for?
Yes, we are creating a campus identity which gives an extensive presence in the community. The existing building is central to this. It is a cultural landmark. It will be a place of worship and have as much use as it does today.
- What will happen to the current Church Centre?
It is a good building with kitchenette and toilets. It will remain as an important aspect of the wider site.
- How much money do we need to raise?
In the short term, we need to raise £1.7 Million to secure purchase of the existing rectory site from the diocese. The amount required for the subsequent building project will depend on the results of planning, environmental impact assessment and the tendering process, but is likely to be on the order of £3 Million
- What is the funding plan?
We are pursuing a range of fundraising avenues, including grants from various trusts/charities, zero interest long term loans, bank loans specifically for church expansion and community fundraising. Nonetheless, the bulk of funding will need to come from congregation donations.
We have a fundraising team of 6+ members that be devoted to this effort throughout the project.
- How can I give?
We urge everyone to consider how they can contribute to the project, it will take substantial investments from all of us to be successful. We are distributing pledge forms asking for your commitment both financially and in other ways you could help
- Will there be the opportunity to start new clubs and societies on the premises?
Yes, and we look forward to welcoming a variety of existing and new activities
- Why should we be spending so much on ourselves when there is so much need around the world?
The Busbridge and Hambledon Church community has always spent considerable resources supporting those in need around the world, and we will continue to do so. This new project investment will grow the church here in Busbridge and Hambledon, which in turn will lead both tobetter opportunities for mission outreach here in the UK and to a stronger base for giving internationally. There is plenty of evidence that projects like this build a ‘habit of giving’, that continues for many years after the project itself is complete.
- Why do we need more office space?
Currently the office staff, employees and volunteers, works in less than ideal conditions. As we continue to grow our congregation and ministry this will be unsustainable in the current building. The intention is to relocate the office staff to space in the new building, and to re-establish the current office as residential accommodation.
- Will we have to employ extra staff as we seem to have a lot already?
There are over 1,000 adults and children on the church database. We’re a very low-staffed church for something of this size. We need to ask what the ministry outreach of the site will be. That will enable us to decide if, and what, new staff would be required. For example, it is likely we will need a new premises person.
- What are the expected traffic implications on surrounding roads?
An environmental impact assessment will provide the answers to this
- How is parking going to be managed?
A full traffic management plan will be developed for the whole site. This will include new parking spaces as part of the Busbridge Central development, but is also likely to require the on-going use of the village hall car park and existing on-road parking to meet the anticipated demand.
- Will the new centre have disabled access throughout?
- Do my family have to be church members to make use of the new facilities?
No. We are keen to provide benefits for the whole community.
- Are we going to get planning permission for this?
We have faith that this will happen following positive early conversations with the local planning department, and we have people experienced in this area on the team.
- Are there alternate options for a new rectory?
Yes. One of the key factors in the timing and possibility of all this is that the Diocese are supportive of a house-move. The Diocese has already purchased a nearby house that could become the new rectory.
- Will there be an environmental impact assessment?
Yes, and the results will be published as soon they are available
- Does this project mean that money needed for the Hambledon vestry won’t be available?
No. We are committed to spending the money needed by Hambledon
Q&A Part II: some more detailed questions and answers
- What if Busbridge Central doesn’t happen?
If phase 1 (the rectory site purchase) does not happen then all funds will simply be returned to donors.
If phase 2 (the new build) does not happen for any reason, then we will own a valuable asset in the rectory site. This would be sold and donors would be reimbursed, subject to sale covering associated costs (which would be very likely).
- What has happened to our discussions with Godalming Baptist Church?
We’re in close touch with GBC. The PCC group for this area meets with the GBC group. Simon and Marcus met and prayed together last month. Busbridge Central is not a surprise to some in Godalming Baptist Church. If we thought God simply wanted Busbridge to move the contemporary into GBC building then this could have happened a while ago. We don’t think this is the limit to that which God has planned. It would be a small and short-term response to a far bigger question God is asking of Christians in Godalming. Please speak to Carol Jones, Frances Shaw, Michael Stubbs or Mark Williams with specific questions in this area.
- Bring the nation to Christ: really?
The vision of this church is twofold. It has wider implications but it starts with a triple aim: love God, make disciples and transform communities. Busbridge Central is about this aim. It is about a UK centred mission to evangelise in the name of Christ in the strength of the Holy Spirit. This will have an impact simply because of the people and area God has called us to love, disciple and be part of in this community area.
- Are we creating a mega-church? Is the proposed auditorium too small?
No. Busbridge Central isn’t about a church building, collecting Christians from elsewhere or megacongregation worship. It is about a location, identity and the next 100 years of Christian ministry. Many churches have created excellent community facilities and good worship space for the 21st Century. We’re not doing anything new in this. Most people do not crave a massive church service of 1,000 worshippers, but they do seek close community. The auditorium size is based on research around local need (e.g. schools), adaptable space and church worship requirements.
- What about other churches?
Most people in the area don’t have anything to do with church. There is room for every stream of Christian in Godalming. We’re already working with GBC. We’re connected to multiple Anglican churches through being part of the Church of England. We’re in good relationship with the Catholic community. We’ve checked the vision with all of these and the response has been positive.
- Will Busbridge Central empty other churches?
Those already worshipping Christ in church communities have already located themselves based on the vision, style, theology or proximity of that community. Busbridge and Hambledon church is, on the whole, an Anglican evangelical church with a carefully charismatic flavour; while we want to welcome, we accept that we’re not everyone’s flavour. That is the beauty of Christianity: there is a wealth of streams of worship and identity. The breadth of worship across Godalming is a strength.
- The services from September: Why 8am, 9am, 10.30am, 6.30pm?
8am takes the 8.30 Quiet service back to its early time of four years ago. Some like this early start. With our Contemporary congregation now moving back into the church building (as of Sept 2015), 9am now becomes our Classic service, with 10:30am the Contemporary. Our 6:30 evening service continues to grow in strength, including the unique flavour of the monthly Unplugged service.
- What about 4:30pm, what’s an outreach service?
The idea behind a proposed 4.30pm service is not about recreating the contemporary congregation at a later time in the day. There are whole generations and groups of people for whom Christian worship has little relevance or resonance. They have little awareness of a gathered event called a service or worship. 4.30 is about asking what worship looks like with this in mind.
- Why do we need children’s ministry at 9am? Hambledon’s 9am service doesn’t need this.
We would like to offer this so that people have a good choice. Some families would like a more structured service with hymns. We’ll keep it under review but we want to offer it.
- Who has been involved in the review of services and getting to the Busbridge Central moment?
The entire PCC, the wardens, LLMs and clergy, those involved in reviewing services and locations: including each congregational team and about 20 people involved in the buildings review groups of the past three years. Those people have talked to others in the church about experiences, future needs and community provision. Around 100 people have been involved in different stages of different aspects of the services reviews and the Busbridge Central vision.
- If the PCC has been looking at buildings, vision and community plans for 3 years why haven’t we heard about it? What alternatives have they considered?
We’ve been asking questions, sharing information and conducting research on church and community needs for a long time. Some of this has needed to be confidential. Some deliberations needed to be conducted in a careful manner. We’ve been sharing information as and when we could at APCMs and the chapter booklets on vision development. Those who oversee groups in the church have been involved in helping shape questions of the future. The buildings group (and PCC) rejected the rectory site as a realistic possibility two years ago. Over a dozen other possibilities: from disbanding services and sending people to other churches through to buying fields were considered. The rectory only became a viable possibility very recently. The buildings group believes that if it had been possible 2 years ago we’d always wonder ‘what if…’ We now know that none of the alternatives considered in the intervening two years offer a good fit for the future.
- What is the initial £1.7M for?
The church has been looking at the idea of a more appropriate plant for community and worship for over 20 years. This is the moment where a particular possibility for this is on offer. £1.7M is the amount required for us to secure the rectory site and enable us to move forward with detailed plans. Further work can be done on building plans. We’ve got a good team who have been looking at planning. There will be others in the church with similar skills and we’d love to hear from them.
- Is the total £5M is an over-commitment of the church?
It is possible to phase the overall cost. If the £3M for building is too great in the shorter term then we would be able to create part of any building development. We would be leaving future Christians a gift of a location to make their own. There are other churches in other parts of the UK who have successfully embarked on similar projects.
- Are there other options than buying the rectory?
Behind this is a key question: what does God want for His church now and in the future? It has taken three years of careful and prayerful consideration to reach this point. We are trying to seek God’s leadership in this and to use God given human skills and gifts to do this. Many possibilities have been considered. We’re not saying this is the right or wrong thing to do. We’re saying that we think it is of God and we are asking the church to test this.
- Why can’t we just take all the pews out?
We can, but we have chosen not to at this stage. We have asked for special permission to experiment. It is a short-term permission and comes with strict rules. We could ask to remove the rest of the pews once we see how things develop. We would still only do this under a temporary license and we would store all the pews in preparation for their return to the church. Everything that is changed must be able to be put back to as it is today. Everything we are doing is fully supported by historical and Church of England buildings groups that have an interest in the building.
- Can’t we extend the church? Or link the church to the church centre?
The vision for Busbridge Central is about the next 100 years. It is about offering something to future generations and providing ministry for today. All we could realistically do with an extra aisle is expand the worship space. The phenomenal cost of doing this to a Grade2* listed building which forms a conservation area and to a quality acceptable to national heritage groups is not far off the cost of the entire Busbridge Central vision, and would result in a far less flexible outcome.
- What about the disabled access path? Why did we do that?
This is is very important. It gives excellent access and path use now. Busbridge Central is a longer term plan and right now we do not know if it will happen. When it does there will still need to be step-free direct access to the church and church centre. The path does this. Building the path has changed attitudes to us in the community and in the council. It has broken perceptions. Without the path we would probably not be contemplating Busbridge Central.
A Q&A evening was held in the church on the 11th May. Approximately 16 people attended. Some of the questions had not been asked elsewhere:
38. What is the optimum size for a new church growth?
Approximately between 15-30. This is the number for close community. This isn’t the same as an ideal size for a whole church. There isn’t an ideal size for this. Some churches are very large and grow. Some a very small and grow. The average CofE church is 47 people and a few children and is declining at a rate of around 10% every ten years.
What matters is whether there is a place for new people to be welcomed and faith has an excellent place for growth. 15-30 people is where those mature in faith can guide those new to Christianity – and learn from the questions of the new people.
Research on generational differences indicates that different age groups seek different sizes of community. Those 50+ tend towards around 100-120 people as an optimum. Those of Generation Y (18-35ish) tend towards large gatherings (say 500+) but within this, to a very small friendship community sub-group. There is no one ideal approach. It tends to depend on who someone is, what is sought and the stage of life. What matters within larger settings there are sub-groups, communities and relationships of a small-size nature.
39. What is Plan B if Busbridge Central does not occur?
There is no plan B. The offer of Busbridge Central to the church for testing is not about success or failure. If it does not happen then God will have brought us to this for a reason. One reason could be that we have been asked by God to look deeply at our own aspirations and attitudes to finance and expectations. There have been many open discussions within the church and in homes about money, God, faith and theology in the past few weeks. Several people have found themselves considering why they do not currently give to God’s work locally and have started to consider this as a possibility. Plan B is to be on our knees asking God for his purpose in the next few years. Simon is personally very relaxed about this. We’re offering a proposal to the church for testing. It is not about anything more than this. If this is not God’s design then, because we have prayed for His guidance, it will not happen.
40. Has the layout of Busbridge Central already been planned?
No. The layout is an architectural outline based on known measurements. It exists to test whether a scheme such as Busbridge Central would be a permissible use of the site. There is little point in planning halls, seating, rooms or actual use until we know if the church believes the overall vision is of God. There will be extensive discussion and consultation with the church, neighbours and many others before we get to detailed plans.
41. As a church, we need to speak to the neighbours. Have we?
Absolutely – because we’re a church and not trying to put something on the site that would maximise housing density and profit. We take our responsibility seriously. Our neighbours matter to us and we’re keeping them informed. More than that, we’ll meet with them, show them plans, ask their views and do our upmost to take them into account. It is an approach that most housing-developers probably wouldn’t bother to take. We’re really grateful to our neighbours for their generous response to date. We’ve had their approval (after a meeting with them) to list their queries here: traffic and noise of, late night noise – is it going to be a community centre that has parties til midnight?, the sort of activity that might go on, keeping the residents informed with regular consultation, parking and two helpful ideas about road layout that we’ll look at.
42. Why wasn’t anything said to the church about the original ideas being looked at?
It is a common verbal question and the response has generally been an understanding ‘ah’ the moment it is explained. The PCC decided early on that discussions required confidentiality for a range of reasons. Some of the explorations have needed to take into account significant relational or commercial considerations. We need to respect the openness in which some people have helped us or entered into conversation with us. We have been working with many people in many spheres of life. The buildings group has been advising the PCC on every avenue explored but avenues are not the same as coming to firm proposals for the PCC to take to the church. The PCC felt that bringing every idea explored, but not possible, to the church each time it was under consideration, without regard to the sensitivities of most of them, would not be beneficial. A better approach would be to give as much information for prayer as possible but wait until something clear came out of the explorations. The first clear thing in three years, only since Christmas, has been Busbridge Central.
We’ve tried to give general indications, without compromising sensitive discussions, as we’ve gone along. A summary of some of these are laid out as follows:
- 2012 Chapter 1 update: If we are to be a church with an intentional ministry which builds a legacy for others then we have got to look at buildings…. have to be in the parish. Busbridge has been trying to find solutions for at least 103 years with the first records on this matter being 1910. a building big enough for Sunday worship in Busbridge…; somewhere to support otherstoo; about something which is good for the whole community with flexibility and multiple-use.
- 2013 Chapter 2 update: The group were mindful that as we are the church of Busbridge&Hambledon the explorations had been about something which would serve more than simply a larger Sunday worship space for Busbridge.
- 2013 Chapter 3 update: The detailed findings of the group were passed to the PCC and will be looked at in greater detail in September. The summary is that the group took the approach of simply asking ‘where and what land is around’? The answer is: not much. That which might be available belongs to others and is not for sale; if it were for sale it would be expensive. The interior and side of Busbridge Church were explored but the costs involved and the level of interest from major groups were noted. The group were looking at the practical question ofwhether any land might be possible if the PCC felt this were a route to explore. This information has been passed to PCC for its consideration.
- 26th May 2013, notices: ‘building a building’: A building is not the objective but is at best only part of God’s way to enact the wider-mission; this has been clarified.
- July 2013, PCC occasional update note on activity for whole church: review ideas and look at any land possibility in relation to church buildings. The PCC has noted that there are only three possibilities and is exploring ways to take these findings forward…. As you read this update you will no doubt discern that we are a very active church with momentum and clarity of intention and direction. The PCC members hold a great deal in their consideration at the moment so please pray for them collectively and individually.
- 2014 Chapter 4 update: Transforming Communities | Buildings – Buildings are important, but they are only as important as the people they serve. Three building -related pledges were made to the church in April 2013… Review the historical ideas for developing Busbridge church, a new church centre somewhere else, land issues and cost questions. .. A small group looked atarchitect’s drawings, notes, land ownership, greenbelt policy, letters, legal documents and sketches over a period of 1911-2012….The group reported to the PCC that there had beenmany plans for Busbridge church building stretching back many decades; most of them unfulfilled; that Hambledon church had drawn up extensive new building plans in the 1980s; all of it unfulfilled; that schemes involving new buildings or new congregations in other locations had been explored in the past; most of them unfulfilled. The group looked at our links withGodalming Baptist Church, where we might develop new buildings and whether we should seek to ask church members to go to other churches – and if churches would be open to receive groups!
- 2015 January: Where we are now A3 coloured chart update: buildings for ministry & the futureRemind: May 2013 Building the future Chapter 1. A need to look at building: both Hambledon and Busbridge. Issues of Busbridge …. Remind: September 2014 PCC begins to look at 5 year plans for ministry and challenges ahead. Away day planned for 2015. In particular, the ministry role for… buildings; setting these against the vision and mission of the church
- 15/1/2015 Notices: If you missed the Resolution Sunday for 2015 last week then the sermons are on the website [bhcgodalming/Listen]. The key points … Corporate: 1) Buildings – Hambledon Vestry, Busbridge church…
- 21/1/2015 Notices: The different types of land that churches own was looked at and the PCC concluded that it is very complex. Information was shared on progress by the group looking at Busbridge church building. Note: even at this stage we were not aware of Busbridge Central/location/Rectory as a concept. The reports to PCC were about Busbridge church building adaptation.
- Notices, 22/2/2015 Why are we meeting to pray? – Over the past three years several groups have been working for the PCC to look at services/congregations, buildings and possibilities for the future and relationships with other churches locally. A group of people have been praying about these endeavours during this whole period. Four different ‘vision’ chapter booklets have gone out to the church over this time to ask the church to be praying about the future. It is now time for the whole church to be gathering to pray as one.
- Prayer event invite 8/3/2015: To pray for those looking at the church building. Within both prayer evenings, focus areas: Pray for sensitivity towards historic Busbridge church building, Wisdom for future decisions about buildings and locations for worship, God’s plans for facilities that enable the church vision to develop
- 29/3/2015 PCC update for notices: PCC, many of whom had spent part of the day in fasting and prayer, also considered a presentation from the buildings group, which for nearly 3 years has been exploring possibilities, and discussed the key question of what God could be taking us into for the future. The PCC came to a unanimous and prayerful view about some of the shape of this and would like the entire church to begin to test this as a people of God in this locality. A small group has been asked to draw information together so that the wider church can explore it and offer observations. The group will bring this to the church as soon as is possible.
43. Why do we need to give a pledge form?
No-one has to do this. It is a personal decision. The pledge form is as much about prayer and helping in various ways as it is about money. Some people simply cannot give financially or are already giving very significantly to God’s work in His church here. We’re asking people to not to alter their giving as this would impact the ongoing work of God here.
44. I don’t see lots of people each Sunday. The Electoral roll has not grown much.
The size of a church is not the determining factor. The question is whether it is God’s purpose.
What matters more than our size is what the numbers say about us. If we had 300 members but only 2 people funded the entire cost of Busbridge Central we’d probably say no to it. What matters is the number of people who believe this is God’s next step into tomorrow. This is why we’ve had 4 prayer meetings in the past 2 months: to ask the church to come together to pray. If no-one had gathered to pray then we’d have to ask what the vision of God’s people was based on.
45. We’re not a big church – can we do this?
We are a big church. The average CofE church has less than 50 adults and a few children in it. Hambledon church alone is double this size. The electoral roll does not, today, indicate size of church. National culture has changed. If you ask someone under about 50 whether they are on the electoral roll they will probably say ‘why? I am a member by my being here and involved’. Conversely, 40 years ago almost everyone in a community would be on the electoral roll. It was the thing you did whether you came to church every week or once a year.
Patterns of involvement have altered. 40 years ago you came to church at least once a Sunday, most Sundays. Our own preaching survey (2014) shows that someone who calls themselves a mature, committed Christian now believes that average attendance to Sunday worship is approximately every 3rd week. We’d question whether this is actual commitment (vs attendance), but it does show that the marks of commitment and identity have radically altered. We have around 150 regular giving families in the church but there are nearly 350 who are regularly involved. Part of Busbridge Central’s task is to awaken and deepen the faith of every existing Christian.
We’re one of the largest 18 churches in the Diocese of Guildford and we’re part of the national Larger Churches Network. Having said this, the size alone is not the key: it is the depth of faith of the followers of Jesus which matters most.