Matt and Beth Redman were key members of the original planting team of 8 adults that started The Point back in 2004. Matt grew up in Chorleywood, along with his mum Barbara, (our Administrator), and siblings Ellie (Will’s PA), Sarah (our Safeguarding Officer), Alan and Tom. They met Will and Caroline back in the mid 1990s when Will became the Youth Pastor at St Andrew’s Church there. They had always kept in touch, so when the idea of planting a new church in Mid Sussex brought them together again everyone felt excited by what was clearly the leading of the Holy Spirit. Matt tells the story of how it all began . . .
What was the heart behind starting The Point?
The Point feels like it was very much God’s idea. My wife Beth was thinking that one reason we were in Mid Sussex at that time was to plant a church and be part of the team yet knowing that we couldn’t be the leaders of it. So, due to God’s brilliance, wisdom and genius, He allowed a few conversations to happen, where suddenly there was this thought of gathering a team with Will and Caroline leading this thing. One reason it was really obvious it was God’s idea and that He was in it, was the speed in which it all happened. Sometimes within the structures of the Church of England it can take a long time for the wheels to turn, but it was incredible how quickly the Bishop got behind the idea and funding was found. Looking back now, that’s a really amazing little moment – the acceleration of the whole thing.
Our heart really was just to reach people in an area where we knew people who needed to be reached. When Beth and I first moved to Hurstpierpoint we felt like we knew part of the reason why but not the full reason and obviously when the church plant happened – everything made sense. By then we had met a lot of people who were going on in life but had no connection to Jesus or the Church in any shape or form, so we were convinced that a new church plant needed to happen and join with what others were doing in the area.
Can you tell us a little bit about your phone call with Will?
I don’t really remember much about the exact early conversations, but I know that Will and Caroline had been in touch with my sister Ellie because they were looking at another church in Sussex (that did not work out) and thinking about moving down here. Beth just sensed that it was going to happen sometime soon but did not quite know in what way, so it was just a brilliant moment thinking, ‘oh my goodness could this be God?’ So, I called Will and we had this very vague conversation about church planting, and it seemed too random to not be God. Like I say, from that moment on there was a lot of excitement and expectation. It is always amazing to me looking back and thinking how quickly the whole thing came together and how quickly a really great starter team gathered.
Why, out of anywhere in the world, did you feel Hurstpierpoint was the place to plant?
Simply because we were living there! The idea of planting in Hurstpierpoint was really thrilling to us as we were living there – and travelling to church in Brighton. We knew a lot of families in the village, none of whom were in church.
I also love the way the name of the church came together just trying to figure out ‘what is this thing going to be called’ and then realising that the name could actually be in the word Hurstpierpoint! The Point made a lot of sense.
What is one of your favourite memories of the ‘early days’ of the church?
I think one of my favourite memories was the first time we did baptisms in St Paul’s in the outdoor courtyard; it just felt like the perfect little place to do that. It was just really special seeing some people getting baptised, literally being circled by people cheering them on and celebrating what God was doing. It was very special, especially as we had watched the journeys some of those people had been on.
What are three key things that you would say were engrained in The Point’s DNA from the beginning?
I think that there was a sense that anyone was welcome.
At the start we were focusing on a few people groups, like children, for example. We were trying to do children’s work amazingly – we put a lot of effort into that in the beginning. Also, we were thinking about the unchurched men. There were a lot of wives who were coming, whose husbands weren’t. We really thought a lot about them, but the church was very much for anyone and everyone who wanted to explore Jesus in any way. I think we kept the barrier entry level really low. It was very much based on belonging before you believe and I really loved that.
I think another of the key things would have been the sense of it being all hands-on deck. Everyone had a place to serve – there was a lot to do and a need for people to show up and serve.
Another key thing was just sharing our lives with each other and believing that this isn’t just an institution. When the early church started in Acts it was really more of a very organic thing, more of an organism than an organisation! That was something we really wanted to cling onto. I remember at the beginning Will would preach a lot on the book of Acts. As well as things like wanting to see the power of God at work, there was a deep sense of sharing life with each other and having community just like it looked like in the early New Testament church.
And finally, if you were a Superhero, who would you be and why?
I think I’d have to say Ant-Man – because I like his sense of humour, and I can relate to being small!