Our Lead Pastor

Kristian & Caroline Thorpe


Kristian is happily married to Caroline and they have 4 amazing children and one fantastic son in law. He has been involved in business and church leadership since 1992. He is the Lead Pastor of Arena Church, a growing multi site church located in the East Midlands with 6 campuses and more to come! He is a pioneering “big picture” leader and with his team they have seen numbers of new churches and campuses develop regionally and further afield into Toulouse, France also.


Alongside the church an incredibly effective community programme has been established, that Kristian is passionate about! It now has over 80 staff / volunteer positions, operates out of 16 buildings and serves over 5000 people each week.


Kristian, until 2019, served for 5 years as the AOG GB Church Planting Director and during this time saw scores of new leaders trained and new works planted. He is passionate about the raising of new leaders, planting healthy life giving churches and transforming communities. He speaks widely helping leaders and churches to remove lids and limitations and think bigger!

Directed by a Senior Leadership Team

This team led by the Lead Pastor brings Directional Spiritual, Vision and Strategy to the whole of Arena Church.

Guided by Campus Pastors 

The Campus Pastors and their localised Team bring a “grass roots” Pastoral and Outreach lead to each location. This team “care for and shepherd” the individual campuses and “reach out and serve” their geographical location.

Protected by a board of Trustees 

The board of trustees bring their considerable marketplace wisdom, skills and expertise to appropriate; legal and financial governance to Arena Church

The last part of our Leadership foundation is found in external Ministries and Ministers:-

We are Strengthened by Apostles –
The Senior Leadership, Campus Pastors and Board of Trustee teams of Arena Church recognise the need for proven Apostolic gift input into the church. These relationships add weight, security, wisdom and strength to Arena Church as a whole.

We believe in one eternal God who is entirely limitless and exists in three distinct and equal persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
The only way to achieve salvation is to trust and believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Our purpose is to spread God’s salvation message to the whole world and to help each other grow spiritually.

Founded in 1929, Arena Church Ilkeston has been pioneered and guided by many faithful leaders. Our Lead Pastor, Kristian Thorpe, arrived along with his family in February 2000. We operate with a clear vision to “Go & Grow and Love & Serve the World”, engaging with people across the community through our campuses with life-giving messages and passionate praise in multi-generational and multicultural services, helping new people to find Jesus every week.

We plant and repurpose new churches both locally and further afield. Hundreds of people serve on our Dream Teams, impacting and serving thousands of people every month throughout local communities. We have outstanding connections with local charities, business owners, Government leaders, MPs and the Police. Everybody is somebody at Arena Church, and all are welcome to connect through our Small Groups, where strong relationships are formed and discipleship is nurtured.

Come and see how exciting and vibrant church can be when the focus is clear and people are free to seek God with passion.