It may have seemed like a “cheeky” request. In fact “cheeky” was the word used by the Pioneer Minister,  the Revd Ben Thorpe in his application for a £2,000 Diocesan Development Fund grant for a top-notch laptop.

But, the Development Fund team saw why the state-of-the-art machine was necessary for Ben and his team at St Joseph’s, Newton Leys. The church, on the brand new estate, has grown from seven people to more than 60 in just three years.

St Joseph’s was borne out of the new Milton Keynes estate, which attracts new residents from all over the country, often looking for somewhere to live on the London commuter belt.

It takes time for a new estate to develop a sense of community, and that’s where St Joseph’s comes in. Meeting in the local primary school to share food, worship and talk about what God may be doing in their lives, the congregation wants to connect with others.

“There are 3,000 people on the Newton Leys Facebook group,” says Ben. “We needed a laptop that would help us produce decent graphics to engage with people online.”

St Joseph’s has invested in good quality but inexpensive design software and free but useable sound-editing software. A high-spec computer is necessary to use that sort of software effectively.
Ben, who studied music technology before he became a vicar, uses the computer to produce backing tracks of worship songs.

“I also produce karaoke-style video slides with lyrics coming up at the exact moment we want them. I use them as I lead worship playing the guitar and singing. Someone else could use them to lead worship when I’m not around.

“We’d have to sort out the CCLI licences, but they are a resource we could share with other churches interested in doing contemporary worship.”

Ben added: “It is fair to say that a laptop might not in and of itself feel like it will help us to become a more Christ-like church.”

However, St Joseph’s aims to reclaim the word church from the concept of a building and a particular service. The laptop allows them to reach the estate and help its community come to know God freshly, through a digital, as well as a physical, presence.

Could a Diocesan Development Fund grant help your church project? Find out how and why you should apply.