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A Unique Opportunity

It might be nine months away, but the media are already planning for Christmas 2017. This time last year, BBC Radio Nottingham called Cornerstone Church with a unique Christmas request. Sarah Daniels explains how the church responded to a wonderful gospel opportunity.

A Unique Opportunity primary image

We were initially approached by the future producer for BBC Radio Nottingham in March 2016 and asked if we would consider allowing them to record their Christmas Carol Service here. Keen to make the most of what appeared to be a good opportunity, but hesitant about who decided on the content, we arranged to meet and discuss it.

John Russell, our Lead Minister, Colin Webster, Minister and myself as Events Manager from Cornerstone met with Celia Kellett who is the producer of the Sunday breakfast show and Gemma Wilkinson, the future producer.

Radio Nottingham were really enthusiastic about coming to an evangelical church in such a modern building. They wanted John to give a reflection and prayers, and Colin to organise our own musicians and band. We were able to have a say over all the content including Bible readings, carols and poems. We were also consulted about other groups that may be asked to perform. What an amazing opportunity to reach our City!

A packed church

On Tuesday 13 December the building was packed out with 600 guests. We estimate that between 80-90% of those guests had never stepped into our church before.

We had a welcome team greeting people in the car park and on the door, while the building was decorated for Christmas with fairy lights and trees. The BBC had said that we weren’t able to ‘hand’ literature to guests, but could certainly make it available.

the event in full swing

We wrapped together a welcome pack with curly ribbon, including a ‘Why Christmas?’, a John’s gospel and an invitation to our carol services and ‘Curious’ course. These were available by the door, in the toilets and on the tables in our foyer area and many were taken.

The service was led by Verity Cowley, one of the Radio Nottingham presenters. There were performances by choirs and musicians that had been in the news or featured on the radio during 2016. Pete Brown, one of our ministers, stepped in to give the reflection as John and Catherine Russell had a new baby girl just days before!

We served free tea, coffee and mince pies after the service and people enjoyed chatting and meeting the faces behind the voices on the radio.

Changing perceptions

The following day, Radio Nottingham’s presenters were so excited and enthusiastic about the service on air. There was an overwhelming sense of surprise that our building was a ‘church’. They commented on the warmth of the building and the welcome, the words being on a screen, comfy chairs and the hospitality given. Such small things that really challenge people’s perception of church.

The full service was broadcast on radio Nottingham on Christmas Eve at 5pm and again on Christmas Day at 1.00pm. Our prayer is that those who came and those who listened as it was broadcast won’t have just enjoyed familiar carols, but instead find the greatest gift is salvation in Jesus Christ.

We had a number of people come along to our other carol services because they had been here for the BBC service. Two ladies we met told us that they had attended church elsewhere many years ago, but had been so impacted by the service they wanted to come back again. Praise God!

We hope this report helps other churches who might be contacted by the media with similar requests to make the most of these opportunities. If you would like advice on handling calls like this from media organisations please get in touch with us.

Sarah Daniels photo
Sarah Daniels

Sarah is originally from Derby and has a daughter named Lydia. She studied Tourism Management in Leeds and has worked in hospitality and events for a number of years. She joined the Cornerstone team in 2013 to work in office administration and took on the role of Events Manager in 2015.