Left Band Leeds is a remarkable space. It is ethereal in its beauty, haunting in its potential for any creative endeavour, and a complete surprise (contrast) from its ordinary exterior. Deconsecrated as an Anglican Church in the 1990s it was owned for a time by a Pentecostal Congregation who could make no headway on the huge financial burden of transforming such an ancient relic into a contemporary space of possibility. It is now managed by a Board of Trustees made up largely from a local missional community of Christians. Their vision for Left Band Leeds is as a vibrant place of creativity and spirituality.
Left Band Leeds is a missional space – not just because of the intentions of the Trustees, it seems to invite spiritual exploration of its own accord. Perhaps it is the wonder-full beauty alone that does this, but I have wondered about the psycho-spiritual effect of the building’s lack of inherited church ownership. There are no plaques commemorating wealthy people of old and no sophisticated religious iconography beyond the simplest temporary cross and the permanent fixtures retained to satisfy The National Trust. I found myself wondering about the importance of it being deconsecrated – could it be that it works as a missional space because it is not ‘our sacred space’ that Christians are inviting others into but rather is ‘a deeply spiritual space’ where Christians are starting a conversation which for them leads to Christ?
The questions of power and influence were never far from my mind as I contemplated questions of transformative space these past few weeks. The creative arts do provide opportunities for mission in a spiritually seeking generation, but any conversation that denies the freedom of individuals to respond without coercion is both unethical and ultimately ineffective. If our rhetoric is an invitation to ‘share’ then we need to have genuine dialogue and forgo any sense of superiority. It’s this ethos of radical spiritual egalitarians that is slowly giving birth to new possibilities for evangelism. Perhaps that will be surprising to some, but for me it is simply a profound discovery that God is fully capable of looking after God’s own business – including the establishment of the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth.