what we do
church services | discipleship | missions and outreach | social action | music and worship | children | youth | students | men | women | marriage and families
Church is so much more than just a Sunday service. We’re an active church family that enjoys living life together, growing in faith, learning about God and working to see His kingdom come in our families and communities. Everything we do is shaped by the vision God’s given us to reach nations and generations through disciple-making, leadership development and church planting. We believe that all of us are called to be part of the vision, either directly as a church planter or as a support to those who are actively working to plant churches.
Our church services are about worshiping God together and there’s a place for the whole family, from toddlers and children to youth and adults. Children’s Church takes place parallel to the main service and several of our congregations also run Amplified youth services. An normal Sunday service is made up of three main parts…
Singing on a Sunday is an expression of our desire to worship God. It’s not about our musical style or preferences (those are here today and gone tomorrow), but about us wanting to spend time with God and hear from Him. Worship in our services is relaxed – the music is lively and you’ll definitely see people lifting their hands! But it’s always respectful – it prepares us for hearing God’s word. It moves our focus from ourselves, the rush to get the children ready, the roadworks on the way to church, the worries about Monday, and turns our eyes firmly to Him.
The service also includes a sermon. One of our pastors or leaders, or occasionally a visiting speaker, will share God’s word. One of the joys of having a large church family is that we hear from people with different strengths. One Sunday it may be a biblical teaching that focuses on a specific scripture, while another pastor may share on a theme like forgiveness or baptism. Our sermons are about an hour long – God’s word sustains us and we believe it’s vital that we speak about it often. Most of our sermons are online in audio format and Shofar Stellenbosch’s sermons are also available on Shofar TV.
On Sundays we have the privilege of worshiping and hearing the sermon – together. Another very important aspect of a Sunday service is that it gathers the whole family. Whether it’s a hug before the service or a chat over a cup of coffee afterwards, church is a chance to meet new people, catch up with friends and simply enjoy being together.
In Matthew 28:19 (the scripture known as the Great Commission) Jesus tells His followers to go into the world and make disciples. As Christians, that command is also meant for us. A disciple is someone who’s devoted to living for Jesus and following Him daily. It’s a pretty all-encompassing word and rightly so, because being a disciple of Christ should touch every aspect of our lives. Obviously the journey, and it’s challenges, will look a little different for each one of us, but there are many opportunities for us as a church family to grow and learn together as we follow Him.
In the New Testament, people who received Jesus as their Saviour were baptised in water as a public identification with His crucifixion, burial and resurrection. It wasn’t an optional extra – in Matthew 28:19, Jesus commanded that all Christians should be baptised and in Acts 2:38 His apostles give the same command. The Greek word for baptism, baptizo, means “to plunge, dip, or immerse in water” and we baptise in the same way Jesus did – with a pastor or leader immersing the believer in water, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. If you’d like to get baptised, contact us for more info or find a congregation near you.
If you want to know more about Jesus, God and life in church, small group is a great place to start! Every week our congregations meet in smaller groups in homes, school hostels, university residences and public spaces, gathering to talk, eat and pray. It’s where church community comes alive – where we challenge, shape and love each other by living life together. Find a congregation near you.
Over the course of three years, Bible School takes us on a journey of not only learning about the Bible, but applying it practically in our lives – establishing an intimate relationship with God, cultivating a biblical worldview and showing our faith practically. Most of our congregations offer Bible School in the form of weekly evening classes, but all three years are also available through distance learning. Visit Shofar Institute to find out more.
Our Encounter Series is a series of four one-day sessions where, with the help of caring facilitators, we walk through our faith journey; our thoughts, feelings and experiences of spiritual community; how we see ourselves and how God sees us; and the constraints that limit our emotional and spiritual growth. The Encounter Series is a valuable tool in the discipleship process, creating an opportunity for us to think about and deal with many of the obstacles that we face on our journey. Find a congregation near you that runs the Encounter Series or contact us to find out more.
If you’re in need of a listening ear and prayer, please start by speaking to your small group leader. As a church family, we’re responsible for looking after each other and your small group leader is equipped to help. If the situation is of a serious nature and requires a trained counsellor, they’ll be able to refer you to a pastor or leader in your congregation who can help. You can also email email@example.com for more info.
missions and outreach
The Bible is clear about the fact that it’s our responsibility to take the gospel into the world and we’ve been sending local and international mission and outreach teams since the very earliest days. (In fact, our first mission team travelled to Malawi before we were even officially registered as a church.) Throughout the year we have missions teams reaching people with the word of God and helping to raise up local leaders who’ll have a long-term impact in their communities. We encourage all our members to join at least one local or international mission a year and most of our congregations send out teams, usually during school and university holidays. Anyone who’s been baptised, is a member of Shofar and has done the Encounter Series is welcome to apply to join a team. Email us if you’d like more info about joining a team.
Jesus is unequivocal about our responsibility, as His Church, to take action in a world that’s devastated by injustice, poverty and violence. The Cyrus Trust is the platform through which we run both our own non-profit organisations and come alongside others who are working in community and enterprise development. Through our network of NGOs we work to empower, support, educate and train, at the same time creating accessible opportunities for our church family to be directly involved in local communities. The organisations include Bridging Abilities, Prochorus Community Development,Relief.Life Disaster Management, Kibwe Kids, Community Keepers, the Stellenbosch Theological Institute, Amplified and Inspired2Become Youth Development. Visit the Cyrus Trust website if you’d like to get involved.
music and worship
The desire to worship is deeply rooted in all of us and music and singing is one of the ways that we express this. We start our Sunday services with worship as a way of turning our eyes away from ourselves and towards God. We start almost all of our other gatherings, like intercession, Bible School and Encounter, in the same way, for the same reason. As a church, we long to see the nations worship. ShofarBand is a group of worship leaders, musicians and songwriters from our congregations who write and record worship songs, with the aim of seeing people set free to passionately praise and worship God! The first live worship album, Victorious One, was released in 2011. The first Afrikaans album and music video, Ons Sal Sing, were released in 2012 and the third album, a studio recording of English songs, and music video, We Won’t Be Afraid, was released in April 2014. All the albums are available on the ShofarBand website.
Ministry to children is an opportunity to help build a solid foundation in the lives of our little ones – one from which they can live passionately for Jesus and adventurously pursue the plans and purposes that God’s prepared for them.
BABIES AND TODDLERS
We know that we can’t raise the precious gifts God’s given us without His help and that’s why we dedicate our children to Him during a church service. With the congregation as witnesses, we acknowledge our dependence on God and it’s also a wonderful time to honour grandparents, great grandparents and other family members. For more information you can contact the congregation near you.
We know that attending a Sunday service can be tricky when you have a baby. That’s why most of our congregations have a friendly parents’ room with a live video feed of the service and refreshments, as well as changing and feeding areas. Most toddlers are also still a little too young to be left alone for a whole Sunday service, so our congregations provide a fun space where you can be with your toddler. The sermon is usually shown through a live video feed and there are volunteers on hand to help look after your child.
Some of our congregations also have small groups for mums that meet during the week. It’s a great opportunity to get to know other mothers and their little ones, grow spiritually and be part of building God’s Kingdom. Contact your nearest congregation to find out if they have a mums’ small group.
Children’s Church takes place on Sundays, during the main service. From the age of three we start teaching them about the word of God, trusting and praying that the seeds we sow will grow a strong generation. As the pre-schoolers grow in their faith, they begin to understand more of their identity in Christ. Through play, music, creativity and fellowship, they come to know Jesus as their King, the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. As they start school, their learning in Children’s Church deepens and they understand more of their inheritance as God’s children. They learn about the armour of God and explore their own journey of faith in the context of the world around them. Contact us to find out more.
Amplified is our youth and student ministry. In Amplified Youth our aim is to create a space where, with the support of their parents, high schoolers can hear the gospel, worship God and be discipled in a way that equips them with a personal relationship with God within the bigger church. Our youth gather in small groups during the week and for Amplified youth services on Sundays at some of our congregations. We also run Summer Camps in December, where youth from across the country meet for a week, and several congregations also send out youth mission teams. Contact your nearest congregation to find out what’s available for the youth.
Through Amplified we aim to equip students and youth to amplify Christ by walking in His truth, empowered by conviction of belief and with obedience as a response. We run socials, praise and worship, Bible School, lunch-hour church First Years’ Camps and more, seeking Christ on campus and providing opportunities for campus to meet Christ. Check out the website or join us on Facebook to find out more
Once a year the men gather for our Men’s Camp, which takes place in the Western Cape, Gauteng and Namibia. Our congregations also hold events such as Men’s Breakfasts and social gatherings during the year and our annual relationship week includes sessions for men only. For more info about what’s happening in your region, contact the nearest congregation or send us an email.
During the year our congregations hold local gatherings, workshops and breakfasts for the women, creating a space where God can speak to us, continually awaking our hearts for Him, for each other and for the world around us. The year culminates in our annual women’s conference, Awaken, which takes place in the Western Cape, Gauteng and Namibia. For more info about what’s happening in your region, contact the nearest congregation.
marriage and families
God has given us marriage not only for companionship, intimacy and family here on earth, but also as a picture of the relationship between Christ and his Bride, the Church – a spiritual representation of our relationship with God. As such, the act and covenant of marriage becomes even more important. We believe it’s vital to give support and care, not only to couples who are preparing to get married, but also to those who are already married, raising families or going through the heartbreak of divorce.
Marriage is a union instituted by God, with a specific purpose and calling. Through marriage prep, we help couples who are getting married prepare for the highs and lows that form part of every marriage covenant. Typically an older couple in church will facilitate the sessions, with engaged or dating couples meeting with them once a week over the course of several weeks. Contact your congregation for more information or send us an email.
Our marriage enrichment course is for couples who are already married and want to continue growing in their relationship with God and each other. The course teaches skills and keys for nurturing a healthy marriage that fulfills its God-given calling to reach the lost and disciple the weary – a refuge for the broken and a safe haven for the lonely. Contact us to find a congregation near you that runs marriage enrichment.
Raising our children to stand and to shine in the age we live in is no easy task. As parents we need to equip ourselves as best we could for this vital calling God has given us. This is why many of our congregations host the Evergreen Parenting Course, which runs over several weeks. It’s a practical, interactive course supplemented with DVD clips, a detailed workbook and group discussions. Contact us to find a congregation that runs the parenting course.