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our history

In some ways we’re a church that began 2000 years ago. We just see ourselves as an extension of the church that began in the first century with Jesus and the Apostles. We certainly want to be like Christ and adhere to what he and the apostles taught in the Bible.

Of course in another way we're a new church having begun as a church plant as part of the Co-mission church planting movement. (

The Boathouse Church began first of all as a Bible study group made up of people from various Co-Mission churches plus a few others from other churches. Those initial meetings were held in late 2011 led by Pete Snow. Once the core group grew to about 20 people we then looked for a suitable venue- actually any venue to run an evening service in. We were very grateful to God that the Kings College Boathouse came up as a possibility for this service and after negotiating a rental fee we began to meet there each Sunday evening from November 2012.

Unfortunately for us Pete's role was always temporary as his plan was to go to Bible college once the church was up and running. So a full-time, senior pastor was needed from the beginning to take over from Pete. Ben Shaw was a good friend of Pete's and keen on the church from its inception. He also had the experience of being on the staff of a number of churches both here in the UK and in Sydney, Australia and had been involved in ministry since 1986. So he and his wife Karen were a great fit and got involved from day one of the official launch in November 2012. Ben became the Boathouse Church's senior minister in July 2013 shortly before we officially became "the Boathouse Church".

By mid 2014 we began a second service on Sunday mornings in a different venue (PEC Putney) mainly for young parents. This "service" then moved to a cafe on the other side of Putney (The Putney Canteen), as that church building was being sold. Then for a while, we were running our morning services in a nicely appointed local music studio but that sadly didn't last. However, as of mid 2017 we now meet in what we think is the best veune for our morning service to date: the beautiful, newly built, Oasis Academy School, Putney. We meet there each Sunday starting at 10:30am (arrive at 10:15am) and is now our only main service.

Given we were in the King’s College boathouse we initially went with calling ourselves the Kings Church Putney, but then we changed it to The Boathouse Church Putney in September 2013 which helped to let people know a bit about our venue and location on the river. All along we were nick-named "The Boathouse Church" so in the end we decided to officially change the name to that.

Curiously some of the earliest Christian art in catacombs (and elsewhere) that represented Christians and churches was not a cross or a fish or a dove or a steeple, etc... it was a boat! Boats symbolised safety in the midst of the sea (metaphorical "chaos" in the minds of the ancients). The calming of the storm as recorded for us in the Gospels (particularly in Mark) was a much cherished miracle amongst persecuted Christians in the first 3-4 centuries for all its symbolism of the church in the "storm" of the Roman Empire. But with the Son of God in the boat there was no need to be afraid. From then on, the boat was commonly seen in early Christian art as a symbol for the church.

In fact, that is why the central part of a church or cathedral where the congregation sits is traditionally called the "naive" which comes from the Latin word "navis" meaning "ship" or "boat". It, of course, makes it into the term "navy."

"House" is similar to "home." The early Christians didn't meet in church buildings as we know them but they met in homes: courtyards, lounge rooms, ancient kitchens etc... Only later did Christians begin to build "church" buildings. With this in mind we hope that our church (wherever it meets) is a "house/home" in many ways for anyone who comes along. We are family under God and all are welcome to come and join us.

So the "The Boathouse Church" works for us not just as a label but as a location advertisement with theological and historical overtones too!

Our background denominationally, if you're interested, is The Church of England, and our conviction comes from and is of an evangelical understanding of the Bible (if you like your labels). The Pastor (Ben) was trained at Moore Theological College Syndey. But we are technically a non-denominational church.