Christ Church Balham was planted from Dundonald Church and has grown to be a thriving church in the south of London. Here, Miriam Siers tells us about the Christmas events CCB have been holding to help friends see for themselves the wonder of Jesus.
‘It’s not unusual to be loved by anyone.’ It is unusual to declare ‘glory to the new-born King’ to what sounds like a Tom Jones classic – loudly, and in a pub.
Christ Church Balham held its annual ‘carols in a pub’ service on 8 December with a unique twist – mashing up traditional carols with much-loved pop music. The pub carols mash-ups have become a regular feature of CCB’s biggest outreach event of the year.
Both the downstairs and upstairs of the theatre at The Bedford Pub in Balham were packed with friends and family of church-goers, as well as those in the pub curious at the merriment. All enjoyed belting out carols with the 10-piece band to a mix of merry renditions: ‘Angels from the Realms of Glory’ to ‘Take on Me’ by A-ha, ‘See amid the Winter’s Snow’ to ‘Giant’ by Rag’n’Bone Man, and ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’ to ‘All the Small Things’ by Blink-182.
CCB’s senior minister, Andy Palmer, gave a message on recalibrating our expectations of Christmas. The chances were, he explained, that most people set their expectations of Christmas either ludicrously high or pessimistically low: ‘Our Bible readings tonight clearly encourage us to set very high expectations for Christmas, and that’s because they all had very high expectations of Christ.
‘Whatever our expectations this Christmas, I would wager that we’ve all set them far too low. That’s because in Christ we are told to expect a Saviour; because in Christ we meet God himself.
‘If you make your Christmas about anything else – no, I’ll go further: if you make your life about anything else, no matter how good those things might be, your expectations will always fall short. You’ll be left disappointed, because we’ve been made for so much more.’
Andy finished by giving visitors a cheeky invitation: the CCB regular who had bought them along would be willing to take them out for a meal – to go through a gospel outline and tell them all about their faith in Jesus Christ. At the end of the event, the crowd called for more carols, and many fruitful chats were had over mulled wine or a pint as the night’s festivities continued.
CCB also hosted a more traditional carols event – with a choir and a brass band –the following Sunday at The Bedford. The event was well attended, once again packing out the room. Many guests heard assistant minster Jonny Burgess preach the good news of Jesus Christ coming into the world to save his people.