Contact Us in the UK
- Phone: 01302 811319
- Mailing Address: 24 Elmfield Road, Hyde Park, Doncaster, South Yorkshire DN1 2BA
Contact Us in the US
- Phone: 202.468.4571
- Mailing Address: PO Box 5188 Wheaton, IL 60189-5188
Nurturing church plants to have BOTH a mission mindset and strong relationships with the local community (Part 1)
Since planting a church on a social housing development in central London 3 years ago, by God’s grace, we have grown in two ways. Firstly, a small but growing group of mission-minded Christians have moved into the area from outside to play a part in reaching the local community for Christ. And secondly, local people have joined the church community through a variety of means (Sunday meetings, midweek meals and Bible studies, socials… In time we hope young men will join us through the free weights sessions we run, but that is proving slower).
As I reflect back on recent years, we have experienced a twofold challenge:
In these early days, the church community is clustered into two main groups:
1) Planters - mission-minded, but relationally unconnected:
These guys are Christians who have moved into the area for the sake of mission through our local church. They have born the cost of leaving prior church families, and intentionally made mission a priority in making work, financial and housing decisions! They are highly committed to mission.
However, in almost every case, (having moved in for the purposes of the plant) they have no prior friendships or connections to the community we seek to reach. These guys are “starting from square one” relationally and inevitably take some time to understand and adapt to the local culture. ('Cluster A' on the graph below).
2) Locals - relationally connected, but less mission-minded:
These are members of the local community who have joined us. In many cases they are longstanding residents with strong connections to the area through extended family and friends they have grown up with. They have years of shared history having lived through the defining highs and lows of their neighbours’ lives. They instinctively “get” the local culture.
However, generally these guys are less mission-minded, either because they have taken on some of their culture's pluralism, or because they lack a clear grasp of the gospel (many in our church community would rightly not identify themselves as Christians). ('Cluster B' on the graph).
to be continued...