Let’s be honest. Everyone likes to be noticed. There’s nothing worse than walking into a room full of strangers and feeling transparent. That creeping social awkwardness where you’re waiting to be spoken to, where the smiling acknowledgement from a friendly face just never materialises.
That was the experience we’d previously had at other churches. The songs were great. The talks were interesting enough. Yet we didn’t feel welcome as new people. We could consume what it had to offer, speak to nobody and then make our way home in time for whatever crime drama BBC 2 was serving up that evening.
Christ City Church, set in a non-descript school hall made famous on Netflix thanks to “Sing Street”, truthfully doesn’t seem much at first. We poked our red boy-racer-esque Vauxhall Corsa into the car park and gingerly made our way towards the doors. Now, if you’re going to write a template on how a church should welcome newcomers, the first chapter should have a big picture of a guy called Eben. From the vast farmlands of Texas, Eben is exactly the kind of person you want on the church’s front-line meeting newcomers. A big smile, his Texan lilt – “How y’all doing?” – immediately put us at ease. Did he hug me? Likely. He’s a warm-hearted guy and I love a cuddle. We weren’t even in the building, yet were being drawn to it. You get one chance to make a first impression and CCC’s welcome team is on point week in week out with everyone involved doing their upmost to make those first few seconds ones to remember.
After a bit of chat, mostly Annabel and I explaining that we know nobody, have no idea what Dublin has to offer, and that we don’t know how to pronounce the pub “Kehoes” without sounding clueless, we were ushered towards some equally friendly faces on the main door. A humdrum of noise spilled out of the doors, combined with a waft of coffee (a sign of a great church: coffee and doughnuts). A few more faces came over to us, eager to welcome, all making a concerted effort to make a couple of slightly dumbfounded English feel at ease in the new environment.
After slugging back some coffee, the band began, Craig and Leanne (you’ll meet them soon enough) managing to herd the crowds into their seats. They’re a talented bunch behind the plectrums and keyboards, often there for hours before the service to practice. We’re the lucky recipients of their relinquished time. Three songs later and it’s notices and into a talk. I’ve been to a fair few services now at Christ City Church and have always left feeling enriched, thought-provoked, and thirsty for more. There’s always plenty to digest, whether it’s Danny speaking about faith that works, Tim opening up the topic of investing in friendships, or Steve talking about the pursuit of wealth. The core teaching is bang on.
Things get wrapped up sharpish at Christ City Church. The services kick off usually around 4.30pm and last around 1h 15 minutes, sometimes followed by optional additions like seminars, and always followed by the pub (to be covered in another blog as the pub deserves a few column inches of its own). If you don’t fancy a bit of refreshment in the Bleeding Horse, a fine 17th century establishment on Camden Street, that’s you wrapped up. Fill in a welcome form before you leave, head home and follow CCC on social media, get plugged in, come back for more. It’s worth every second. Welcome to the family.
(by James Bass*)
*This is part of a short series of blog posts written by James Bass and Greg Sykes who have joined the church in the last year. We hope they help you think about how you connect to Christ City Church and form good friends.