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.
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.
Our sending church is Westminster Chapel, which has recently joined Guy Miller’s network, a movement that has emerged out of Newfrontiers (which now exists as a collection of movements). This means that we uphold the core values of Newfrontiers, including a massive emphasis on the Bible, on the work of the Spirit today, and on the experience of church as something full of grace and life.
SO WHY PLANT?
There are two ways I could answer that question. The first is from a personal angle, and the second from a consideration of the need in this city.
Speaking personally, I’ve known I was called to pastoral work since a young age, and over the past 11 years or so I’ve had a burden to be involved in church planting. I suppose the seed of that idea came from the amazing vision I caught within Newfrontiers as a boy, and since then we’ve heard of so many incredible movements around the world as church planting has become such a strong emphasis. And rightly so, since it is the most important element in the fulfilment of the Great Commission. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the Great Commission is best understood as ‘plant churches’.
When we look at London as a whole it’s a very mixed picture. On the one hand, church attendance has been increasing so that there are more churchgoers in London than in other parts of the country—somewhere around 10% of the population. On the other hand, there are many, many churches that are dead or dying. I’ve visited a number of these and it’s a depressing experience. Furthermore, there are pockets of London that are relatively under-served and need a lot more churches.
The South Bank area is, in my opinion, one such area. Anyone who’s familiar with the scene in central London will know that there are some amazing churches that draw many people who will travel in from right across the capital. These churches cross the spectrum of style and emphasis, from the ultra-charismatic to the ultra-reformed. However, by far the majority of central London churches are north of the river, despite the fact that the geographical centre of the capital is nearer Lambeth North Station—i.e. south of the river. In fact, some of the most prominent church plants in central London began south of the river, but hopped over as soon as they had enough people and finance. This means that, for the tens (hundreds?) of thousands living within a short distance of Waterloo Station, there are not enough churches.
Apparently, I’m not the only one to have noticed this. Since deciding we were going to plant around South Bank I have heard news of at least five other churches or groups of churches that hope to plant in the area. That is amazing news, and it’s obvious that God is putting his finger on the map and advancing mission into this part of central London.
In essence, then, London needs a lot more churches. In fact, my hope is that we’ll see hundreds more churches planted across London in the years to come.
WHAT’S THE VISION?
First, we are hoping that we’ll plant a church that will be fruitful. That, in itself, is a daunting and even impossible task. We need God to bless this work, otherwise we’ll join the ranks of failed plants.
Second, though we want the church to be fruitful, we don’t want it to stop there. We also want to learn how to plant well so that we can train others to plant churches across London, and farther afield. That may sound a little ambitious for nine people (incidentally, equal in number to the Fellowship of the Ring). But since we know that Jesus is most definitely in favour of church planting, we feel confident that we can talk this way.
Please consider sharing this post, since we need to start getting the word out. As Christians move to London, and to the south-central boroughs in particular, we want them to consider joining us. If you want to get in touch, go to my About page.
Oh, and one more thing. The name is Grace London.