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The Nations in the City

Christ Church Liverpool has 25 different nationalities attending the church every week. So how can churches with such diverse communities best reach the nations on their doorstep? Ken Lippold introduces us to a conference that is seeking to start the conversation.

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If you came to my small group on a Wednesday night you’d meet someone from every continent in the world except Antarctica.

At first we didn’t plan it that way; this diversity is just the make-up of those who live in my neighbourhood in the city centre of Liverpool. But when we realised what was going on, we decided to really go for it. A few invitations later, we ended up with a small group that reflects the beautiful diversity of the planet and the Kingdom of Heaven.

Our small group isn’t the only diverse group at Christ Church Liverpool, either. Of our 13 small groups, all but two have at least one person from another nation. On any given Sunday morning, you’d find somewhere between 20-25 nationalities attending our worship service.

If you are ministering in a city – and no doubt suburbs, towns and villages have similar dynamics – you can probably identify with our situation.

I’m telling you this to highlight a challenge we face as a church. How do we establish unity in a diverse community? Diversity is challenging and we don’t always feel equipped to handle it.

For example, despite our great diversity, members from middle-eastern countries sometimes feel marginalised. Despite our great diversity, our leadership team is white and middle class.

We have a strong desire for the leadership of our church to reflect the diversity of our membership, particularly because we are a church that values church membership and leadership from within.

Not only that, but we want to reflect Galatians 3. We want to have such unity in diversity that it can be said of our church, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3.28). We long for our church to be a dim reflection of what we will all experience in the New Heavens and the New Earth.

What next?

This is not only a discussion we’re having at a local church level, but is a discussion we’re having as trustees of City to City UK.

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City to City UK’s vision is to be a movement for the planting of highly contextualised, gospel-centred, church-planting churches in the most influential cities in the UK. As we consider all that it means to be churches for our time and place we can’t help but be confronted with the cultural divides that keep churches from working together to reach their cities.

So, we are putting on a conference in June to begin the conversation. It’s not a conference with all the answers, but a conference in the true sense of the word. We will confer with one another about how we embrace diversity. To help us with this conversation we have invited Tope Koleoso (Jubilee Church, London), Efrem Buckle (Ecclesia, London), and Tim Keller (Redeemer City to City, New York).

At the conference we’ll be considering:

  • How does recapturing a Biblical theology of the city help us establish unity in churches and cities?
  • How can church plants seek to meet the challenges of diversity?
  • Are multi-ethnic church plants practically possible?
  • How do we reconcile contextualisation with a desire to be heterogeneous?

So we would love you to join us in London for this important conversation on 19 June 2018 between 9:30am and 4:00pm at St. James Clerkenwell.

For more information or to register, visit the City to City UK website: citytocityuk.com

Ken Lippold photo
Ken Lippold

Ken is Co-Pastor at Christ Church Liverpool and Founder/Director of the Alliance for Transatlantic Theological Training (AT3). He serves as a trustee with the North West Partnership and City to City UK. Ken is married to Emmy.


Follow Ken Lippold on Twitter – @kenlippold