How important is ethnic diversity to a church? Bearwood Chapel places a great emphasis on this.
Source: Like for Like – Notes on HUP
How important is ethnic diversity to a church? Bearwood Chapel places a great emphasis on this.
Source: Like for Like – Notes on HUP
I don’t understand why a person armed with an axe would choose to board a train and attack a group of strangers.
But I do know that love is stronger than hate.
I don’t understand why a person would choose to drive a lorry into an innocent crowd, intending only to kill and destroy.
But I do know that light is stronger than darkness.
I don’t understand why a person would choose to take a gun into a nightclub and open fire.
But I do know that hope is stronger than fear.
I don’t understand why a person would corrupt a religion – any religion – and use it in an attempt to justify unimaginable harm.
But I do know of a person who taught us to love our neighbour.
I know of another who suggested that if we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong…
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A challenge by David Robertson to the pragmatic prosperity gospel of ministry only to the prosperous
Life is a learning experience – the more I learn the more I realize what I do not know! The Creflo Dollar ‘experience’ has taught me a great deal, not least as I set that in contrast to where I have just been this past couple of days – speaking at the Independent Methodist ministers and church leaders conference in the beautiful Lake District town of Windermere.
In a sense Creflo and the Independent Methodists are at opposite ends of the ‘Christian’ spectrum. Whereas Creflo has a church with tens of thousands, millions of dollars and a massive profile, the Independent Methodists are a small group of 1500 members mainly scattered throughout small churches in the post-industrial and rural areas of Northern England, whom very few have heard of. Creflo has a ‘world changers’ ministry. The Independent Methodists would struggle to see themselves as changing Chorley, Croxton or Crosby.
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And now for something just a little bit different…
…A retelling of the Christmas story using detail drawn from a little known historical source – the Daily Crime Bulletin of the Bethlehem Police Department (known by all as the ‘BPD’ – and by some as the ‘Thin Beige Line’).
Published daily by the local Constabulary, the Bulletin offers a fascinating insight into the work of a hitherto unheralded group of women and men – whilst shining new light on an old tale.
Bethlehem Police Department
Daily Crime Bulletin
Late Turn – Briefing for Operation Census
– Substantial number of migrants arriving at border during past week;
– Limited community tension reported – no incidents of note;
– Large crowds expected in Bethlehem this evening;
– No intelligence re: pre-planned disorder;
– Terrorism Threat Level remains at ‘Severe’;
– 12 officers on duty;
– Roads Policing Chariot in for repairs…
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Thanksgiving Service 2014
Recently London City Mission held its annual Thanksgiving Service at All Souls, Langham Place.
It was a wonderful evening. We heard testimonies from missionaries. We heard of lives changed, sins forgiven, hope provided around our great city of London. We sang and gave thanks for God’s gracious provision.
The heart of the evening was Guest speaker Andy Paterson’s sermon from God’s word. Andy is Mission Director with FIEC, and he inspired staff and supporters alike as he opened up Colossians 1. He challenged us to not to lose our nerve and imagine that somehow we should give up on verbally sharing the gospel just because it is unpopular. He also challenged London City Mission to “help plant and support indigenous churches, go on resourcing gospel-hearted churches with some of the brilliant evangelists that you have and work with those churches so that they might effectively welcome and grow and develop people who are coming to faith in Christ and please use your expertise to grow a generation of working class church leaders.” Thirdly, he impressed upon the Mission the role it has to play in training, facilitating and equipping truly multi-racial, multi-ethnic churches in London.
Our own census shows that 48% of Inner City London’s Christians are “Black Majority Ethnicity”, 38% are White Ethnicity, and 14% are Asian and Other Ethnicities. We are a global church with an opportunity to reach the rich mix of London, but our congregations are less diverse than our workplaces and schools.
The full 30 minute talk is available below.
Andy Paterson, Mission Director with FIEC, speaking at London City Mission’s Thanksgiving Service
The service was a great time of blessing and fellowship as we thanked God for all he has done in and through the Mission over the past year and lifted up the coming one to him. There is still much to be done in London and much to be prayed for.
Pray for London
After a year of prayer and reflection, London City Mission looks to the future and refocuses its ministry to make a greater gospel impact.
‘…. and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ (Acts 1:8)
London has many needs. People disagree on what it needs most: more schools and hospitals; less traffic, and improved air quality; more police, and less crime; more affordable housing, and less of a gap between rich and poor. There’s wisdom in all of this, but at London City Mission we believe that, most importantly, London needs Jesus. That’s why we got started in the beginning, and it remains our firm conviction today
London City Mission has an opportunity to serve God by seeking to extend the kingdom into the least reached parts of this city
London City Mission’s first missionaries showed incredible courage in their commitment to those in need, caring for them as they suffered and died of cholera, and sharing an eternal hope in their darkest hour. With courage, compassion and commitment, generations of missionaries have followed in their footsteps, reaching out to the least reached in the name of Jesus in communities across this city.
Over the past decades London has changed dramatically. Many of the districts we work in have changed beyond recognition. But the gospel need remains – and our vision, to take the gospel to London’s least reached and hardest to reach people, remains the same. Because of its diversity, London is a unique mission field, and one of the world’s most strategic cities for world mission. A city of great need, yet a city of enormous gospel opportunity.
London changes, and it is important that we do not stand still. Over the past year we have been engaged in a review of our mission work and ministries. We have prayed, and talked to church leaders and other wise and godly friends. As we have prayed and talked, we have tackled a number of questions about mission:
As we have done this, we have been struck by three recurring themes:
Our vision,to take the gospel to London’s least reached and hard to reach people, remains the same
Jesus told the disciples they would be his witnesses in ‘Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ To apply this to the church in London today: Jerusalem is where we are based, and implies friendship with and evangelism to people like ourselves; Judea is church planting just down the road to people quite similar to us; and the ends of the earth is world mission. As Christians we are good at reaching those who are like us, at planting churches and at sending people overseas, but what about Samaria? Reaching Samaria is about sharing the gospel with people who are chalk to our cheese, those who may be geographically close but are a million miles away in culture, tradition or lifestyle. I sometimes fear that this part of the Great Commission has fallen on deaf ears.
As we look to the future and think about our ministries, London City Mission will increasingly focus on London’s ‘Samaria’ – those people who are more often than not the least reached of this city. This ministry focus will mean change for us as an organisation, change both to where we do mission andhow we do mission.
We are encouraged by the gospel work that is going on in London. Churches are growing, and there is much emphasis on new church plants. But in the midst of this great gospel effort, many are still not coming into contact with the gospel. London City Mission has an opportunity to serve God by seeking to extend the kingdom into the least reached parts of this city. By least reached we mean those who are least likely to be reached by local church evangelism.
Examples of London’s least reached are those living in the neediest districts with little contact with the church, new immigrant communities and isolated elderly people. We are talking about those who are often beyond the reach of the local church. We give thanks that we have always been able to faithfully take the good news of Jesus to London’s least reached in a wide range of places appropriate for the times; in the past those places have included post offices, railways and taxi ranks, and in the future we will continue to reach men and women in communities of need across London, including prisons, schools and old people’s homes.
A strategy to reach London’s least reached and support the church of London in evangelism
Of course, focusing on London’s least reached is not a new idea. Our founders were burdened by the great gospel need of the day; mission to those the established church was not reaching. We are encouraged by the knowledge that our mission for the future is in continuity with the original calling of London City Mission.
In light of the work we have done over the past year, the Board of London City Mission has approved a plan to help us fulfil this vision for mission. In the months and years ahead we will take a number of steps to ensure that everything we do is in line with a strategy to reach London’s least reached and support the church of London in evangelism.
To begin with, this means:
Over 180 years the Mission has experienced many changes, and known God’s grace throughout them all. Change can be difficult, and we pray that God will bless and guide us in the months ahead. In the midst of difficult decisions and changes, we will continue our patient, sensitive and individual evangelism to London’s least reached, we will continue our kingdom-focused work, and we will continue to seek to increase our gospel impact in this city. We pray that because of these changes we will see more people engaged in fruitful gospel ministry.
Some of our ministries may look different in future, but with a renewed focus and vision for mission in London we hope we will be able to:
Thank you for your partnership in the gospel. Please pray with us as we implement these changes and adjust to new ways of working. For some, change is like a breath of fresh air; for others it’s difficult and upsetting to step away from one ministry to focus on another. Pray for grace and wisdom as we move ahead, and, above all, that God will use this renewed focus to bring more people into his kingdom.
Graham Miller – Chief Executive of London City Mission
Where is Christianity growing the fastest? The Center for the Study of Global Christianity, based at Gordon Conwell Seminary, published In June 2013 an excellent report regarding Christianity in its Global Context. The full report can be found online at www.globalchristianity.org/globalcontext. From this report I identified the top 20 countries that have the highest percentage Christianity Average Annual Growth Rate (AAGR). They are listed in Table 1. I have also calculated the number of years for the number of Christians to double, based on the Average Annual Growth Rate.
Table 1. The Top 20 Countries Where Christianity Has the Highest Percentage Growth Rate
|Rank||Country||Continent||Christian AAGR||Years to double||Majority Religion||Percent Christian 1970||Percent Christian 2020|
|Nepal||Asia, South Central||
|United Arab Emirates||Arabian Peninsula||
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But when I dipped into this pocket-size offering by Michael Reeves, formerly of UCCF, now ‘theologian-at-large’ (a pretty cool title) at WEST, I was altogether refreshed and thankful for the privilege I have of speaking to my Father God. In short, I was eager to pray.
Reeves begins by laying his cards on the table early. He believes there is a prayerlessness prevalent in evangelical culture, and he wants that to change, and longs for this book to be something of a “tonic” to kick-start refreshed prayer lives.
Reeves’ diagnosis of the problem is interesting. He thinks one of the key reasons we go wrong is because we think of prayer as another “thing” to do, which inevitably leads us to go…
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Missionary work has never been easy. Jonah faced drowning and heart break. Paul defends his mission work by boasting, not of his achievements of church planting, but of his floggings, imprisonment, and beatings. In a world of impostors the Lord authenticates genuine gospel service through the suffering of his servants (2 Tim 1:8). A history of the Church Mission Society’s first overseas work states, “There were few events of a striking or remarkable character. Missionaries and schoolmasters died, and their places were supplied by fresh arrivals from England. Thus the work suffered no interruption”. A similar account can be given of the early work of London City Mission. The journals of many brave missionaries came to an abrupt end in the 1850s when missionaries continued providing medical and spiritual help to needy Londoners throughout the cholera epidemics.
Today we have fewer martyrs at London City Mission and even mission agencies have health and safety officers. There is no avoiding the fact though that working for London City Mission is not an ordinary job. We expect missionaries to face mockery and rejection. We make best efforts to ensure those working with the marginalised are kept from harm, but this work is never “safe”. Missionaries will make sacrifices of life’s comforts. Hours are based around the needs of our community, not our convenience. It is common for missionaries to labour for years in difficult parts of London seeing only a handful of professions of faith, and there is nothing more heart breaking than seeing a young person you’ve invested years of life into, slipping back into addiction and despair.
How are ordinary men and women able to do this extraordinary work without falling into despair? Paul describes the missionary’s source of strength in 2 Corinthians 4:7-18
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal”
The Lord puts his glorious gospel in jars of clay so that it is clear that the good news is the work of the Holy Spirit within. The same Spirit at work in Paul is now at work in us. The same Lord who raised Jesus from the dead is now strengthening us. The same wonderful hope that Paul had of eternal glory, is also our hope, and so we don’t despair.
Each week we hear wonderful news from around the mission of God’s word proclaimed and lives transformed, but our strength and hope isn’t dependent on that. The gospel that we preach to London is the gospel that we preach to ourselves. We marvel at the grace of God to us, and are excited about His name being glorified. It is as we look forward to the hope of eternity that we have the strength to carry on. The gospel perspective is vital to our ministry.
If our focus was on human success then we would behave differently. If our aim was for a comfortable life then we would place our missionaries in areas with the best schools for our kids, not the neediest places. If our aim was to prove how attractive we are then we would build outreach centres in areas with large numbers of existing Christians and we’d win them over with better music or child care so we could shout of our numerical triumph. If our aim was for a ministry that won worldly acclaim then we might still work with London’s poorest, but we’d put pictures of them all over our literature and win accolades for our social work, quietly forgetting about Jesus.
Our desire is to see the Lord’s name glorified in every part of London; in Forest Gate and Kilburn, in Brixton, Dagenham, and Ilford. We don’t focus on the places with growing house prices, instead we’ve surveyed London to find the places with the lowest density of churches.
Our missionaries do extraordinary work, but we are ordinary Christians. All Christians are called to the extraordinary ministry of proclaiming Jesus in Samaria and to the ends of the earth. All of us should have the same gospel motivation. I pray that more Christians in London would have a missionary perspective on where they choose to live, how they use their time. The church of London has plenty of resources to reach the neediest parts of our city with the gospel, but we often lack the gospel perspective to fully engage with the mission before us. I give thanks for the missionaries who have taken up this extraordinary task but I pray for many thousands more ordinary Christians who will reach out with good news, even if they are not on the London City Mission payroll.
Up until last week, I’d never addressed this issue from the front of church. I’d had a few conversations with individuals over the years. But it’s not been a massive issue. I guess that those who came to CCB who felt that we weren’t exuberant enough in singing didn’t return and found a home in another church. There are more charismatic alternatives not a million miles away from us.
It pains me when people make decisions about churches based on music. But they do. That’s one of the reasons why I want our music to be top drawer; to get people to stay long enough to give people some Bible in their Christian life. But the other, more important reason isn’t pragmatic; it’s theological. We ought to praise God with enthusiasm. Just look at Psalm 150. It’s disobedient not to praise him wholeheartedly. But the issue I’m addressing here isn’t…
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With all that has separated the Body of Christ over hundreds of years there is a mountain of disunity that we need to deal with. At Saints in the Stadium thousands of Christians from all traditions and backgrounds came together to call on God to seek His help for the United Kingdom. Eight people from different denominations of the Church stood and prayed for Oneness in the Body in the United Kingdom.
There is only one God and Father. Centuries of separateness amongst believers for countless reasons does not change the unity of God. Standing together and singing or praying does not change the separation in our hearts. Issues of truth do not become flexible with us simply holding hands.
We can, however, take heart from the increasing number of leaders and church representatives who want to see a change…
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