09 August 2016
Church for Ragamuffins? gives space to those on the margins
An innovative style of pioneering church is enabling people recovering from addiction to meet God.
Set up by Church Mission Society pioneer missionary Luke Larner, the Church for Ragamuffins? caters for those on the margins of society.
It was established after he noticed recovering addicts had trouble finding their place in traditional churches.
Luke Larner said: "They have an experience of God, then they turn up at church and get overwhelmed by the language, structure and format of the service.
"Our members are not used to the long sermons and word based teaching of many traditional churches.
"We have had to work out a style that bridges the gap between real life and church language and culture."
The church provides a space for former addicts and the homeless, some of whom, because of their recent experiences, exhibit a short attention span, illiteracy and struggle with authority.
In spite of these hindrances they are finding faith in the most unlikely of circumstances.
The Church for Ragamuffins? was set up when Luke and his wife noticed that people emerging from a recognised 12 step recovery programme to address their addictions had frequently encountered a strong spiritual experience but were left without a context to answer the questions they now had about faith, God and humanity.
They approached church leaders to design a template that would help answer people's questions and meet their spiritual need.
Luke explained that the group, comprised largely of people recovering from addiction presented challenges but also led to incredible experiences of witnessing lives being transformed.
"Not long ago some of our members were begging to feed their drug habit, but now we are seeing people encounter God and lives transformed.
We had our first baptism this week, with more on the way."
Luke is also a biker and a member of God's Squad Christian Motorcycle Club and is currently studying Theology, Mission and Ministry as part of the Church Mission Society's Pioneer programme.
Luke explained: "I have had my own struggles with drugs and alcohol but I also know the power of God to set me free to pursue my call to 'shine light into dark places'."