SALT AND LIGHT NETWORK.
Just as churches have individual character, so groups of churches of similar focus tend to gather together to benefit from regional and national connections and resources. Salt and Light Ministries is a family of churches and leaders who work together, including 60 churches in the UK, and many more in North America, Africa, Australasia and India.
The churches have distinctive common values including; modern forms of worship, ministry (service for others) and church government. The theology is progressive, that is to say it actively interprets the bible for contemporary issues, but is still firmly based on biblical Christian truths and values. Leaders are not of greater importance than others, and have no priestly role between members and God, as each person can speak to God themselves. Instead leaders serve, support, teach, counsel, and encourage. All are able to participate in the work of the church, and study to inform their own personal faith and life decisions. Being good is not so much about things we can’t do, as being freed from bad habits and motivations with the help of God’s Spirit: through healing, the renewal of our thinking the changing of our habits, and receiving God’s personal guidance. The churches emphasise faith in God’s constant presence in every believer through the Spirit of Jesus, and in God’s power to strengthen, guide, and equip believers to live lives of love, joy, peace, faith and integrity in His presence.
Services are informal and do not use liturgy. Faith, worship, and service are matters of daily living, not just Sunday meetings. Churches in the network are autonomous under their local leadership of elders, and link together with others through the natural development of leadership relationships. There is minimal central administration, the emphasis being on releasing the activities of local churches, rather than building regional or central teams or centres. But leaders also share their expertise and giftings across the network where they can be released by their home churches and it can benefit others. Some leaders have vocations to serve churches across the network through gifts and ministries roles described in Ephesians 4: apostles, prophets, teachers and evangelists. It is recognised that many other ministries also bring edification between churches, including practical and creative ministries, including counselling, bible study, training, music and the arts.
Spiritual growth is through study and discipleship, a pathway of learning beginning with enquirers groups, through personal discipleship, to a life of ministry transforming the world with the values of Kingdom of God. Mature Christians support one another in their Christian life through mutual pastoring and spiritual direction.
The network originally developed from a group of churches who shared these values who gathered around the leadership of Barney Coombs in Basingstoke, UK, and the apostolic and renewal theology of Arthur Wallis and the gathering of leaders in the UK renewal of the 1960’s and 70’s.
The network organises church camps in the summer, leadership conferences, national training structures for worship teams, pastoral, mission and other ministry areas. There is a full time UK bible college at Oxford which also offers part time courses.
Westbourne Grove Church have a leadership link to Phil Norris atBasingstoke Community Church and other leaders in Basingstoke and Oxfordshire churches. This arrangement offers Westbourne Grove Church spiritual and practical advice and expertise, and adjudication of any disputes which require formal appeals procedures outside the church. The church retains its independence and has the final say in all decisions other than formal appeals as detailled in the church rules.