“The simple gift of sharing food around the table with people turns mission from an activity to a lifestyle.”

We spoke to Lizzie Lowrie who has recently become Local Missional Leader at St Luke’s Crosby

Originally from Crowborough, East Sussex, I’ve been living in Liverpool for 2 years with my husband Dave, who is an ordained pioneer curate at St Luke’s, Crosby.

I had always grown up knowing about God’s love but it wasn’t until I was 18 and volunteering at a project in Bolivia for children who lived with their parents in prison that it actually began to make a difference to my life. I returned transformed from a shy teenager to a confident believer in the One who created me and loved me. Filled with this new ‘God-confidence’ I began to explore new mission opportunities and throughout my 20’s, during and after University I worked with Spanish holiday clubs, Spanish and Italian churches, and University students in Cardiff and Barcelona.  When I eventually landed back in the UK I was forwarded an email from a guy in Chester who wanted to set up a coffee shop to connect with the unchurched and dechurched 18-30’s in the city. We started emailing and I moved up to Chester to set up That Café Thing with him. The café was a success, the community grew and people came to faith but unfortunately 10 months after opening the business was unable to sustain itself financially and we had to close. Four months later I married Dave, the guy I ran the café with and we settled in Chester. After three years of marriage we moved to Cambridge for Dave to begin ordination training. Whilst in Cambridge I studied an FdA in Community Pioneer Ministry, volunteered with a Fresh Expression at a local primary school called Thirst and started a blog with some friends at Ridley about experiences of childlessness and faith called www.saltwaterandhoney.org. Since moving to Liverpool I have continued to blog and speak about faith and childlessness in Christian and secular contexts and am now writing a book about my own experience of miscarriage and childlessness as well as working with Dave to pray, listen and dream about what God is calling us to do in Crosby.

Q: What spiritual challenges or opportunities are you aware of?

I believe a lot of the spiritual challenges facing us in Crosby are around connection and community.  Crosby is a place with a great sense of community but I think it often lacks a central space to be community.  Also, similar to many churches across the UK, our church is also struggling to connect well with 18-30’s, an age group I love working with and one I’m still just a part of! I have a real heart for this particular age group and long to see people in this demographic connect with the Christian faith and with church.

Shortly after arriving in Crosby, Dave and I joined a small group of 18’s-30’s connected with St Luke’s and have been meeting and eating together every week since.  The group is a real mix of those with faith and those with questions. Eating together has helped create an informal environment to connect with each other and our relationships are deepening with three group members being baptised this year.  Although everyone enjoys the informal atmosphere of talking about faith and learning together, many of our group still aren’t connecting with church in its inherited form and I believe this is a huge opportunity.

Q: What might God be saying to you?

Having a house filled with food and hungry people each week has not only improved my cooking skills but has once again reminded me of how well hospitality and mission work together. I think the simple gift of sharing food around the table with people turns mission from an activity to a lifestyle. In a culture that’s becoming increasingly disconnected I believe eating simple food with people is a powerful way to connect and share our lives with others and have been exploring ways to do this on a larger scale to connect with more people in our community through the Storyhouse Project.

Storyhouse will be a café and bakery opening in the centre of Crosby village this autumn. The project has been financed mostly by the St Luke’s congregation with contributions from other local churches and our deanery. It will run as a coffee shop and hospitable community space and will be designed to connect specifically with the younger generations who are missing from our churches. With two floors it will be a fun, hospitable and creative space for the community to gather as well providing opportunities for people to find out more about God and explore contemporary and contextual ways to worship. Our vision is that Storyhouse will become a fresh expression of church, offering something new and different to the community that is not already present in the established churches in Crosby.

Q: What difference will becoming Local Missional Leader make to your role?

Being commissioned as a local missional leader has been really encouraging, it has affirmed me in my calling to the community I live in and knowing that my local church and the Diocese are behind me and praying for me has given me a greater confidence as I begin to develop the Storyhouse project. Although I will be setting up a project outside of St Luke’s church, the fact that I have been sent out as their Local Missional Leader has helped me feel a stronger connection to the church as this is very much their project that they have commissioned us to carry out.

Taking on the role of LML in Crosby has also given me a real heart to share the story behind mission. There are so many books and talks written from the safety of success or hindsight but often we’re not very good at sharing the journey and talking about the messy middle and the struggles and doubts we can have when we step out in faith to try something new and I think that can discourage others to believe they’re not good enough to serve God. From Genesis onwards, struggle, fear and doubt are integral parts of the story of God working in partnership with His people but this never stopped lives and communities being transformed and the same is still true today. In my role as LML I want to encourage the church to realise God’s inviting each person into an adventure with Him where they can make a difference in their community even when they may struggle to believe it themselves.