Posts Categorized: Church Planting

Goodbye Chapel

chapelgoodbyeYesterday we said goodbye to Westminster Chapel in an official way as we were prayed for and commissioned to get going with this church plant. In addressing the church for the last time as a member of the Leadership Team I decided to more-or-less write out in full what I wanted to say. Here it is:

In a moment or two I want to talk a little about Grace London, but before I do that I need to say a few things about Westminster Chapel.

I love this church. What do I mean when I say that? Obviously, I don’t know everyone, and those I do know I don’t know equally. But when I say I love this church, I’m talking about the corporate identity, the characteristics of the family.

I want to get specific. Here are some of the things I love about this church.

1. You love Jesus.
2. You are serious about the Bible.
3. You’re not scared of but instead love the Holy Spirit.
4. You are amazingly diverse.
5. You honour your wonderful history.
6. You are excited about the future and willing to embrace change and vision.
7. You don’t give your leaders a hard time.
8. You are generous.
9. You are pursuing holiness.
10. You make sacrifices to be part of this family.
11. You serve sacrificially often with little recognition.
12. You have an amazing pastor.

You might ask, if I love this church so much, why am I leaving?

Jesus made it clear that, while we’re called to build churches that really honour him, we’re also called to multiply and spread what we’ve got so that more people become part of his body, the Church.

If I felt that Chapel was going to be diminished because I or the people joining me are leaving, that it would be weaker, then maybe we’d feel compelled to stay. But the reality is that Chapel is going to go from strength to strength as more people shoulder the work we have been involved in. There are immense talents and gifts in this place, and people who can take things much further. So, in that sense, you don’t need us at all!

But all that’s good about this church needs to be reproduced into new churches. London needs many, many more churches to touch it’s vast fields of harvest — the sprawling population of millions.

And so, after 12 years here, and 7 years full-time work, I feel it’s the right time to leave.

For a while now I have sensed what I would describe as a ‘pressure’ or ‘compulsion’ on my spirit to get on with what I believe God has called me to do — to plant churches. There’s a lot that doesn’t feel comfortable about that. I don’t think I’m a natural fit for church planting, and it’s quite an intimidating prospect. But I also know that God is in this, so I will just keep plodding forward.

I’m so grateful that a few of the people in this church have been willing to join me. After 7 years work here I feel a bit like Jacob asking for one of Laban’s daughters, but unlike Laban, you didn’t give me bleary-eyed Leah — instead, I’m conscious that the people joining me represent Rachel. They’re beautiful and I’m grateful.

As we get started there are a few burning passions that drive me. I suspect that our vision will morph over time as the Holy Spirit leads us, but right now, these are the things that compel me.

1. I want to see people getting saved. I really believe that the gospel is the hope of the world and that Jesus is the ‘one mediator’. So he needs to be preached all over the place. And I also believe that when Jesus is preached, people get saved and changed. So, in a sense, I want to put that to the test in a new church and long to see Jesus lifted up so that he draws all men to himself.

2. I want to see men (specifically) discipled and trained. It seems to me that there is a huge need for a change in the expression of Christian manhood in evangelical circles in the UK. In my experience, women are far more willing to do courageous things for God. Over the years at Chapel it is single young women who I have observed taking radical steps to be involved in frontline mission, and rarely men. In the course of us getting started on this church plant I have had more interest (outside Chapel) from women who are expressing a desire to be involved. Men often don’t seem to know what it means to lead their families on mission with Jesus, to teach their children, to model godliness, and it is my hope that in Grace London we can begin to see a change so that men catch up with women, and then shoulder the burden to take the lead.

3. I want to plant more churches. It may seem overly ambitious to talk like this when we haven’t even started, but all of us who are in the core team are infected with the vision that we’re not here to establish one healthy church, but rather to shape our practice and identity around the goal of training and sending. Church planting is intimately intertwined with the Great Commission, and therefore, since we are here to fulfil the Great Commission, we are also going to plant churches as God enables us. That means finding and training pastors, channelling resources, and praying, praying, praying.

As we say goodbye, I want to ask you all to join us in ongoing support and prayer. Please go on our website and sign up to our mailing list where you will hear updates and receive prayer requests. Please consider giving over and above what you give to Chapel. If you already give to Chapel, you can give to Grace London by simply letting the treasurer team know (e.g. in a reference) and your gift will be designated. Or, you can give online through our website and they will know it’s for us.

We’ll be back from time-to-time, I’m sure, over the coming months and years.

Thank you for 12 amazing years.

[This post was originally posted at www.gracelondon.org.uk]

Church Plant: Approaching September

God is good.

We’re officially leaving Westminster Chapel on 31st August in order to form our new church plant, Grace London. As the weeks and months have passed the team have grown more excited. Allow me to take a moment to update you on a couple of important steps towards this being a reality.

1. Venue Update

As we’ve been praying about making a start in the Autumn, we’ve been able to find a venue! We’re meeting in the Horse & Stables on Westminster Bridge Road, just a few minutes walk from Waterloo Station. It’s the upper room of a lively pub, and a perfect size venue for us to begin our Sunday meetings. The doors will be open at 4pm on 28th September, 2014. As I mentioned in an earlier post, we are hoping that throughout the Autumn term people will begin to join us on this venture with a view to launching more officially in 2015.

2. Website

Thanks to the hard work and skill of our resident designer, we’ve put together our website and it’s now live. Feel free to have a poke around and forward the link on to anyone you know who may want to come and visit the church.

website

www.gracelondon.org.uk

For those of you who want to stay up-to-date you can sign up to our mailing list using the link on the Grace London website. I will occasionally send out some news and prayer requests as the months roll on.

Church plant: A request for your prayers

I first announced the church plant in May, a little over two months ago. During that time our small core team have been meeting together regularly to pray hard about the future, and I want to invite you to put us on your prayer list too.

Every time I meet with the team who are helping to plant this church I’m amazed and grateful to God for the rich array of gifts and skills they possess. But over and above that, there is a real sense of faith, of believing that God’s with us.

A couple of big milestones are in front of us, and if you want to pray in a focussed way these are the things I would encourage you to pray for. Continue reading

Church growth: Why numbers don’t tell the whole story

big crowdIt is fashionable these days to judge the success of a church or ministry based on its size. Typically, the men on platforms at Christian conferences are the guys with the biggest churches. Pastors flock to hear their methods and imitate their strategies. I’m not sure when this trend began, but it doesn’t seem to be a strong theme throughout the history of the church, and least of all in the New Testament. I have a number of problems with this extremely narrow view of success. Continue reading

London church plant

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I tried writing this post once already and a friend (‘friend’) told me that it was boring. How do you announce a church plant and manage to make it boring? Well, apparently I achieved that, so let me try again.

We’re planting a church in London! Our home church is sending us, and we’re aiming to get it started later this year. There’s only nine of us at the moment, but we think God’s in it so we’re going to give it a go anyway.

One of my motivations for writing this blog is to get the word out so that people like you might join us! If you’re seeking to be part of a church plant in central London, and interested in helping to get this work off the ground, read on.

WATERLOO(ISH)

Our hope is to be as close to Waterloo station as possible. Since we don’t have a building we’re not totally sure where we’ll end up, so all I’m committing to at the moment is that we’ll be in the South Bank area.

My family have been living in Kennington for two years now, and we’ve come to love the area. It’s central London but feels that bit more residential. Waterloo itself is an iconic location, being one of the busiest train stations in the world. Within a stone’s throw of the station you have wealth and poverty, white collar and blue collar, and the diversity of race you come to expect in London. Continue reading

When you’re planting a church

Reuben Hunter over at Trinity West recently shared with me some of his experiences in planting a church. One of his top tips was to go away and watch this video, which, by the sound of things, pretty much sums up his journey so far. (I think his church is at about 1 min 23 at the moment, so watch this space.)