Next to the board advertising the Sunday Lunch stands another one advertising a “Sunday Experience” from 9.30am to 10.30am.
Inside the Buzz Factory restaurant in Sunridge Village, Port Elizabeth, there is indeed a happy buzz of people gathered around tables – not for a meal but to sing praises to God and hear a message from His word. The bottles of wine on the shelves behind a counter don’t even seem incongruous as the congregation of this new church plant enjoy their “Sunday Experience”.
Waypoint Community Church, is the beginning of the realisation of a vision for a group of Christians from the nearby Kragga Kamma Dutch Reformed Church, who felt a call to cater for people who would not readily attend church in a more traditional church setting. And after five weeks they have indeed had some people walk in from the shopping centre and come back for more. Currently the language medium is English and Afrikaans.
Dirk van der Mescht, one of the founding leaders of Waypoint, provided Gateway News with this account of the new congregation’s birth: “Waypoint Community Church, didn’t start as that. The journey started in 2010, from a place of holy discontent. What is a fact though is that you can’t build a faith community around that. That is why it changed for everybody involved with WCC into a realisation and internalisation of God’s vision into our everyday lives. It’s about His Body; His love for a broken world.
“Organisationally we started in 2013 and at that stage it allowed three individuals to be in fulltime ministry. Since then we have grown to having six fulltime staff members. We served in our different areas of speciality, independently of each other. We had events or programmes where we collaborated and we soon realised that as a team we could contribute more than we could individually.
“After a year of ministering in this way, a common vision became clear. We want to lead people into a living relationship with Christ, reflecting the love of Christ to the world. After a year of ministry God asked us a question: “What if we did this in Cape Town or in Johannesburg; would we have seen different results? Would more people have entered into a relationship with Him?”
“The answer was clear and so we embarked on a journey in 2014 that led us to conversations with leadership in the Dutch Reformed Church that resulted in the plant of a new congregation. We are different in the fact that we aren’t defined by geographical boundaries. We were planted because of a very specific need.
“We experienced God’s hand in this process. Every time we had to take a radical step in faith God consistently confirmed our steps, or sensitively aligned our direction. We were fairly sure about the next step, and often we did not know how it would be possible to take that step. The path as a whole was mostly uncertain; but the calling and vision was crystal clear. We acted in faith with passion. When we took each step on the journey the path ahead was prepared by God. Sometimes the preparation of that path was started by Him years before. Our Father is amazing!
“The last thing that PE needs is another church. We are a faith community where the people that gather create environments that are inviting and welcoming. An environment that is accessible to non believers and the next generation. A Sunday morning experience should be fun and one should wake up on a Sunday morning and you can’t wait to go to get there. Kids should wake their parents up because they don’t want to miss a Sunday morning experience. That’s where it starts and from there you connect people into a faith community and not to a church.
“We use the Sunday evening experience to delve deeper and explore issues further. It acts as a next step from the morning experience. The foundation from which we work is community. This is created by being part of a LifeGroup.
“In line with making people feel welcome on a Sunday that aren’t necessarily comfortable with church, being in a traditional service, or being a non-believer – we were challenged with finding a neutral venue. We had to challenge ourselves in terms of our vision and our values. Out of that conversation the idea of meeting in a restaurant or a coffee shop emerged.
“We are super excited to be partnering with Buzz Factory in the Sunridge Village Shopping Centre. We have our morning experience at Buzz Factory from 09:30 until 10:30 and our evening experience from 17:00 – 18:00. It is an upmarket, vibrant environment where anybody can feel comfortable.
“If you visit our website: www.waypoint.org.za – you will find more information and you will be able to see some photos of what it looks like. If you want to have a more visual representation then you can watch a short promotional video by using the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TEg3BGcQVqc
“Even though we are sent by the Dutch Reformed Congregation, we partner with a few other churches and denominations. Three that have been instrumental in enabling us to give body to our vision and be able to clarify it is Willow Creek, Life Church and North Point in the United States.
“We were very blessed to have three of our staff members visit Life Church and North Point last year with the plant of WCC in mind. It was amazing to see their excitement about what we were busy doing here in South Africa. For them it is all about the Capital ‘C’ – ‘Church’. Capital ‘C’ Church is all about the Body of Christ, the movement that was started by Him. It’s about the Kingdom and not about denominations.
“We are very excited about what God is doing. We know that we are not there yet, but we had an unbelievable journey up until this point and we can’t wait to experience more of what God has in mind for us and through us; for Port Elizabeth, the Eastern Cape, South Africa and the world.”