IN 1985, it was a little chapel with just 18 members.

Now, more than 30 years on, average attendances across weekly services total around 500 people and there will soon be five church services throughout the week.

So how has Kingsland Church in London Road, Lexden, achieved this remarkable transformation? And especially against a backdrop of declining congregations in perhaps more traditional churches.

In the 2011 Colchester census, 57.7 per cent of the population identified themselves as Christian compared to 71.57 per cent in 2001.

However, the Rev Neil Loxley, 56, feels Christianity in Colchester is as strong as ever.

He said: “There are many churches in Colchester which are growing.

“One of the exciting things is being able to work with those churches and do stuff together that demonstrates our life and variety.

“The style of worship has changed, the way that we expect church to look has changed and our openness to God and to people has increased although that has always been a characteristic of our church.”

Kingsland Church was established in 1884 and today is a lively, modern and slightly different church.

The church is not the classic stone church architecture rather two purpose-built meeting places above the Aldi supermarket on Lexden Road.

The church runs several groups from the centre including baby and toddler groups, slimming world, guide leaders meeting, dance groups and counselling sessions.

There is also a café where people can meet and enjoy the ‘best value cappuccino in town’.

In total, about 1,000 people a week now go to use the community facilities.

A different style of worship has given the church a name in the area.

It is based around a love of contemporary and classic rock music.

Mr Loxley said: “We have a variety of gifted musicians and singers who are part of our congregation.

“It reflects the music that people listen to and the church is always better when it uses the means that people are currently interested in.

“Lots of people comment on the quality of the worship.

“I believe when we sing we have our heart open to God.”

Mr Loxley has been at the church since 1985 and has seen it grow from humble beginnings.

“I moved here when I was 12, I joined a little youth group which met at the church run by people from a variety of churches on a Saturday.

“I started getting involved from the age of about 14, I went had a career as an accountant and then came back in 1985.”

Since then, whilst it hasn't aways been plain sailing, Mr Loxley has seen the church grow and change.

He said: "Sometimes it has been two steps forward and one step back, but most of the time I am a positive person.

“A lot of people make friends at the church and that keeps them coming.

“There is such a mix of ethnic groups, educational and social standings which reflects something of the society we have got today and that God wants us to have. It reflects what a church should be.

“I suppose 30 years ago, the congregation were predominantly white and old but we are pleased that has changed and it has now become a very broad church.

“Anyone who walks in will find people they know are like them and that is attractive.

"After that initial attraction there is a sense of belonging.

“The strong community this creates is important for our current society.”

The church is run by just a few of members of staff but they have the support of more than 200 volunteers.

"The facilities are great and the groups which use it really appreciate the care they receive," said Mr Loxley.

"The church is good for society and our community."

Mr Loxley is happy people use the church's facilities no matter what the reason but believes it is important to remember why they are there.

"I love it when people find Jesus, I find that it makes a difference in their lives.

"When someone obviously gets a purpose and a meaning for their life they start to get confidence.

"I am a Christian in that I follow Christ but I am definitely not a hellfire preacher or over dogmatic."