We nearly didn’t come to Bearwood. We first saw and advert inviting someone to come as a pastor to this church in 2009. The advert described Bearwood as a place 3 miles from Birmingham.
The location and even the name contoured up images of a leafy English village with cricketers on the common and old ladies riding their bicycles to the post office.
How wrong we were. And it’ s a good job we checked 1. because Bearwood is right at the heart of one of Britain’s largest urban conurbations, home to a couple of million people from every nationality. That’s exactly the sort of place we wanted to be.
Now that’s not because we are against rural church ministry. Our villages need Gospel churches too. It’s just that this is where we felt that our focus should be. God calls different people to different places.
So I wanted to give you a little flavour of what urban church life is like. If these things fill you with excitement then maybe urban church planting and revitalisation is for you.Every week I get to see people from many different nationalities. On our main shopping street there are Caribbean and Polish food shops, a barber shop run by Kurds, a halal butchers as well as Aldington, The Co-op and Greggs. One of the great things about Urban Church life is that as I see people from all around the world, I’m reminded about Jesus’ great commission to go and make disciples from every nation.
I have the opportunity to share the good news about Jesus with people from lots of different religious backgrounds, Hindu, Sikh, Muslim, secular. I am challenged as I meet and see people who are hungry to know God and searching to find him. I am reminded again that in the Gospel we have the precious words of life and hope because salvation is in Christ alone.
I have to tell people that I cannot give them the solution they want. I cannot fix things. You know, if you occasionally meet people in desperate poverty, you think you can fix it. You can probably get them some food, lend them some money, find them somewhere to stay. But the real hardship in our urban centres isn’t something a few of us can fix through philanthropy. I can’t sort out the mess. It’s not about me. I have to point them to the one who is the true and only source of hope and salvation
Urban church life brings great variety. One day you might be running a club for kids after school, another you might have the opportunity to participate at a cultural festival and get to interview one of the church family about their faith. It might mean organising a community party or fun day and being overwhelmed by the numbers who turn up. It will mean constantly being ready to give your time to others. It will mean consistently pointing people to Jesus.
Is that something you could be involved with? To find out more about how you could play your part in sharing the good news about Jesus with Urban Britain, have a look at our #PlantBC page.