London: Building Gospel Relationships
Trevor Archer doesn’t officially begin work as our first London Director until April, but he’s already encouraging FIEC churches to work together in London to reach the city for Christ. Rachel Dalby went to a recent gathering in Westminster which was designed to start nurturing these relationships.
London’s future seems likely to feature driverless taxis, drones delivering parcels, and robot chefs serving-up fast-food. But what’s less certain is how many of the 8.5 million people living inside the M25 will know anything about Christ.
So, with Jesus promising to return “like a thief in the night”, FIEC’s mission seems increasingly urgent.
In March, Trevor Archer invited the leaders of our 76 London churches to a meeting to help them contemplate addressing this challenge. He was thrilled to be joined by representatives (most of them pastors) of almost 50 churches for an evening of discussion, fellowship, food and prayer at Westminster Chapel.
“It was such a joy to see our brothers and sisters from across London joining together. Many introductions were made, and many ideas shared as people listened to one another talk about their own unique churches and communities.”
A diverse mission-field
With such cultural, religious and socio-economic diversity, London is one of Britain’s most exciting (and challenging) urban mission fields.
While one pastor at the meeting described how his church found itself in a predominantly Muslim community, another explained the difficulties of his ageing congregation. Some churches were largely made up of senior managers who were often away on business, while others struggled for people to run youth activities.
“Understanding one another – the different obstacles and opportunities we face, and the different contexts each of us works within – is a vital first step on the journey to working together to magnify God’s work and win souls,” said Trevor. “Meeting, hearing from each other and praying together will, I hope, lay the foundations for us to build a much bigger and stronger church in the capital – one of the greatest cities on earth.”
During the evening’s discussions, those present were asked to think about how they could foster partnerships between FIEC churches, and how opportunities for gospel growth in their neighbourhoods could be explored together.
The groups agreed that more focused prayer, and more opportunities to meet and get to know each other better would be key.
As one pastor put it: “Relationship-building is organic. It takes time and commitment. You wouldn’t marry someone after the first date, so churches are unlikely to begin working together overnight. Meetings like these are excellent first steps.”
“It may seem simple to put FIEC churches into clusters by carving up a map. But the reality on the ground often makes this sort of exercise incredibly complex.
“For starters, the River Thames and major roads can mean that churches that are incredibly close to one another geographically are actually separated by what may as well be an ocean. Then there are churches in boroughs next door to each other that are so different in character that the residents may not even speak the same language.
“Friendship, understanding and trust between churches – and, in some cases, the willingness and grace to close the book on difficult historical events – will take time. But I am positive that, with God’s guidance, we can all move forward together.”
He added that he had already been impressed by some churches offering to loan each other resources; and even people in some cases. That’s something Trevor is keen to see more of across London’s FIEC churches.
Members of the FIEC Pastors’ Network (and pastors interested in joining) are being encouraged to attend the Pastors’ Network Day Conference on Tuesday 9 May at Christ Church Mayfair. You can book for the Conference on the event page and find out more about what these conferences are like in a recent report.
The next meeting of FIEC’s London pastors will take place at Westminster Chapel on Thursday 5 October 2017 with a time of news, fellowship and food from 4pm until 8pm. Look out for the booking information in the months to come.
In the meantime, please pray for all gospel-driven churches in the capital, and for the millions of London residents who don’t yet know Christ as Lord and Saviour.