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Faith pioneer

Christian Selvaratnam is not your typical Anglican minister... 

G2ON Sunday mornings his congregation gather to worship in a meeting room at a York gym.

They are seated at round tables, served coffee and croissants on arrival and regularly go for a dip after the service in the heated swimming pool.

Christian Selvaratnam is one of a new breed of Anglican minister and his service, called G2, is part of a new movement to take church directly to the people.

It lasts no more than an hour and elements include video presentations, informal worship and bite-size sermons designed to generate table discussions.

Christian, 40, a married father-of-three, said: "At G2 we spend a lot of time thinking about how we communicate the Christian faith to those not from a church culture."

Christian is one of the Church of England's first Pioneer Ministers. Their spiritual mandate is to establish fresh expressions of church in the hope of introducing a wider range of people to the gospel.

Christian's own faith journey started at Warwick University in 1988 when friends invited him to their informal weekly Bible group.

"At first I really didn't want to be a Christian and thought their faith was a sign of weakness," he said.

"I had hoped to put them right.

"I soon discovered, though, that their faith was observably real in their lives. After a period of listening and watching I began to join in."

Christian later attended an evangelistic event which proved to be life-changing.

"The speaker talked about knowing Jesus which I could really identify with," he said.

"I met up with him the next day for a bag of chips and we talked about how I could become a Christian.

"I didn't think I would change that much but my friends said I went through a real transformation. They really helped me to grow in my faith and I became extremely contented with my life which was not something I previously felt. It was the start of a real adventure with God."

This adventure would see Christian follow a strong calling into church leadership - to give others the same opportunity he had to embrace the gospel.

After finishing university he served at an Anglican church as a caretaker for two years before joining an independent church. He later co-founded a student-led church in York which grew to about 120 people within four years.

Christian eventually felt called back to the Church of England.

"I wanted to be an agent for change," he said.

"The church is training up a new generation of pioneers and I knew that was for me. We are trying to push our influence beyond the group of people who come to our Sunday meetings and looking at more fresh expressions of church.

"It is an incredibly exciting time and I feel very drawn to new initiatives that focus on mission."

Christian has now taken on overall leadership of G2, which is an offshoot of York's biggest Anglican church, St Michael le Belfrey.

Their hope is to reach many more people as they worship alongside the gym's steam room, rowing machines and treadmills.

"My mission is to see people, who currently have no interest in God and no experience of His church, become followers of Christ," Christian added.