Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Remembering London’s Lost Lads

Posted: November 9, 2018 in Uncategorized

The Great War caused the loss of 42,000 London lads in a fight between empires intent on holding sway over the trade of commodities from cocoa to opium.

For each soldier killed many more were injured or traumatised, and families were impacted not for weeks but for years, and sometimes generations.

My family have our own story to tell. In 1917 John Montague Miller died reconnoitring enemy lines at the Somme. He had a wife, Annie, and 5 kids. Annie was devestated and was eventually sent to an asylum. Two daughters were sent to Banardos and promptly exported to Australia where they were used as fruit pickers. Annie’s youngest son Bert, stayed with her, as did her oldest daughter who became a young carer. Her oldest son, Jimmy lied about his age so he could join the army. By his 15th birthday he was being shot at defending Jewish villages in the British Protectorate of Palestine.

When WWII started Jimmy joined Churchill’s special service commandos, Bert became one of Montie’s “desert rats”. Bert died in a tank trying to relieve the siege of the Libyan town of Tobruk. Jimmy was shot at the battle of Monte Casino where his unit were wiped out. He survived to return to his wife, Peggy, in Scotland where he went on to be father to two kids, including my Dad.

Although Jimmy had been a Company Seargent Major with responsibility for dozens of men in the country’s elite forces he found it almost impossible to find work after the war. He ended his career as a caretaker for the local power station living in a council house in Southern Galloway.

Jimmy’s siblings had been failed by society. His sister’s had been packed off to Australia and his brother died in a desert but there was a feeling that things would change after WWII. Returnees from the war voted for a system that attempted to ensure there would no forgotten groups in society.

Today our “fairness” systems are breaking again. Wealthy men can expect to live 10 years longer than poor men, and have 19 more years of “healthy life”. In 1918 the most common cause of death for young men in the UK was gun shot wounds from the battle fields. In 2018 the most common cause of death for a young man in the UK is suicide. In London suicide has been overtaken as a cause of death for teenage lads by homicide by stabbing. We have another generation of young men who are dying in struggles and turf wars – will we remember them too?

Jimmy Miller would have been heartbroken to discover his great grandson died by suicide whilst on a waiting list to see an NHS psychiatrist. He would have been horrified to see the spike in crime across his beloved London following cuts to the capital’s hard pressed police force. He’d have been disheartened to see that the Officer/NCO class divide in society is still there even in our churches.

Lads of London have been dying and not followed up on for too long. This rememberance day I suggest we make a decision to remember all of the London lads who have died. We remember those who have given their lives in the wars of the twentieth century, we remember those who have died fighting the demons of mental health, we remember those who have died in the needless territory wars and initiation ceremonies of London’s gangs. I pray that we can work together to strive for peace and reconciliation and provide a peaceful home for Londoners young and old.

Christians have a particular role to play in being peacemakers in our cities. Before 1945 it was very clear that Christians had a responsibility for the poor and marginalised. If there had been a knife crime problem in the past it would have been a problem shared by the church. Most of London’s hospitals were started by churches. By 1870 when the schools were nationalised there were 36,000 attending the ragged schools for London kids founded by London City Mission. Since 1945 churches have often left “love for our neighborhood” to the council. This has changed since the introduction of austerity in 2010. As benefits have been cut and children’s centres have closed, churches have moved into the gap. 95% of Foodbanks are provided by local church groups. Church toddler groups and community centres with CAP courses are often filling the gaps left as Sure Start centres close.

The Church offers more than just the practical love of a handout, and the helping hand of a CAP finance course. The Church brings a message of good news, hope, forgiveness, love, and justice, much needed in our broken society. When we talk about the gracious example of Jesus, we talk of someone who knew hardship, who knew how to cross cultural barriers and bring people together. When we talk about the sacrifice of Jesus we come to understand that it is not our empires that will save us but Jesus’ death and resurrection. Last week a 15 year old lad, Jay Hughes, was stabbed to death outside a fried chicken shop in Lewisham. He’d been attending a local school and was well known to the LCM centre in Lewisham. He wasn’t a gangster. He was a good kid who was enjoying friendships with people at Ecclēsia church. His death is a tragedy, keenly felt. The loss of Jay and others must drive us to work and pray for a society where the are no marginalised or forgotten groups, where everyone has a chance of hope and good news.

100 years ago the families of the fallen were often forgotten about or mistreated. Let us resolve to do a better job today. When we hear of young Londoners dying in tragedy, let us take it upon ourselves to reach out with love. Let us remember and make a difference.

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Some practical steps to make our outreach to kids more effective for all kinds of kids – many thanks to Mark Arnold

The Additional Needs Blogfather

20% of children and young people have an additional need or disability of some kind; if your church includes children and young people, some of them are likely to need additional support.  Many of these children and young people, and their families, feel excluded from a wide range of social and other activities, including church, so how does the church reach out to and meet the needs of these children and their families?

Inclusion is something that should be offered to every child; it doesn’t stop at wider doors, ramps and disabled loos but should include creating places of belonging and developing the faith of every child, whatever their ability or needs.

As churches plan for their summer programmes, perhaps looking to run a holiday club for local children for example, or taking a group of children or young people on a summer camp, what does reaching out to children…

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A call to think of of the box about “urban mission”

Practical ideas to support urban mission from @BearwoodChapel

More useful data from Tom

Gospel Data Geek

Gritty inner city areas and wealthy suburbs feature more evenly among the churches in this week’s analysis – in contrast to the focus on the Salvation Army and RCCG in my previous blog.

The FIEC and Gospel Partnerships have a combined membership of more than 900 churches and have much in common in their doctrine – in fact, some churches are members of both organisations. So it is unsurprising that their churches can be found in similar areas.

However, there are some differences. Overall, about half (50.2%) of FIEC churches are located in the poorer half of the country, while slightly fewer (46.3%) Gospel Partnership churches can be found in these areas. And if you live in an area within the most deprived 10% of the country, it’ll be harder for you to find a congregation linked to the Gospel Partnership as this is where they have the fewest churches (7.8%).

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A call to long term urban mission

Some analysis by Gospel Data Geek

Gospel Data Geek

The Church of England is retreating from poorer areas in favour of the rich. That’s according to someone on the inside – the Bishop of Burnley.

So do any church networks or denominations invest the other way around – focusing more heavily in poorer areas?  In the next few blogs I intend to dig out the data that shows who has churches in which areas.

First up, it’s one of the largest Black Majority Church (BMC) networks in the UK, and another denomination that’s possibly one of the most well known.

RCCG  – or to give its full name, The Redeemed Christian Church of God – first started in Nigeria, but analysis shows they now have a strong presence in some of the most deprived parts of this country.

In fact, the more deprived the area, the more likely you will find one of their churches, with 78.1% in the…

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Like for Like – Notes on HUP

Posted: January 27, 2017 in Uncategorized

How important is ethnic diversity to a church? Bearwood Chapel places a great emphasis on this.

Source: Like for Like – Notes on HUP

policecommander

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

TheWeeFlea.com

 

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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A Copper’s Christmas

Posted: December 9, 2015 in Uncategorized

policecommander

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
(Date obscured)

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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London Gospel Challenge

Posted: October 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

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’s Sermon
 

image

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

Because London Needs Jesus

Posted: October 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

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)

Mission in London

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.

The number of homeless people in London is growing

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:

  • What is London City Mission’s unique calling, and what can we contribute to mission in London that others can’t?
  • How can London City Mission have the biggest possible impact for the gospel in London?
  • How can London City Mission make the very best use of the resources, skills and experience God has given us for mission in London?

As we have done this, we have been struck by three recurring themes:

  1. London City Mission is primarily a gospel organisation. We have been and always should be focused on sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with people in London.
  2. Our calling has always been to the least reached of London, and we need to make sure that our work is focused on those who are in the hardest to reach communities of this city.
  3. Our ministry must serve God’s church in London, and our activities need to aim for partnership and collaboration in evangelism and discipleship. Our prayer is that we will see an increasing number of Christians in London engaging in gospel work!

The Great Commission and the challenge of Samaria

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.

Cross-cultural mission

 Who are the least reached?

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.

Flats on the Isle of Dogs

What does change mean for 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:

  • Recruiting new staff and providing support and training for existing staff
  • Taking decisions to refocus our resources on London’s least reached
  • Carefully exiting from certain areas of ministry; for example, redeploying some of our workplace chaplains to some of the neediest districts in London
  • Transitioning some of our ministries to other partner agencies
  • Partnering with churches to share resources in mission
  • Developing new ministries to the least reached.

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:

  • Increase the number of staff engaged in mission to London’s least reached
  • Serve the church in London through training and partnership
  • Grow the number of volunteers and ministry trainees, and mobilise many Christians in London to get involved in evangelism and gospel work.

Please pray

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 MillerGraham Miller – Chief Executive of London City Mission

Disciple All Nations

top 20Where 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

1

Nepal Asia, South Central

10.93%

6.6

Hindu

0.1%

3.8%

2

China Asia, Eastern

10.86%

6.6

Non-religious

0.1%

10.6%

3

United Arab Emirates Arabian Peninsula

9.34%

7.7

Muslim

5.9%

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That Happy Certainty

How do you feel about reading a book on prayer? Part of me feels that’s the last thing I need: another excuse to get me off doing the one thing I seem to avoid: praying.

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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ChangingLondon

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.

the urban pastor

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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John D Manwell's Blog

    8 Representatives Together

You Tube video of 8 leaders prayer together 

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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