In the last post I mentioned two ways in which churches and individuals in wealthier parts of the country could support urban ministry in needy areas.
Now I think it is right that people ask us what we are doing. I want to share a little again about our context.
Bearwood Chapel itself is not in a prosperous area but not is it in one of the most deprived areas. We are at a kind of bridging point. This is true geographically, culturally and economically. This means that we provide a link or meeting point between:
– Birmingham and the Black Country proper
– A variety of ethnic groups
– A church family that includes those who are reasonably okay financially (though we don’t have anybody really wealthy), those who are just about managing and those who have very little at all.
We have been encouraged by a lot of Gospel opportunities and we have tried where possible to multiply opportunities for people to come together to hear and respond to the Gospel, dig into the Bible together, praise God and encourage one another.
This has included:
Starting new congregations including The 9:30 Service, Sunday Night Church, Engage and Nueva Vida. The latter is an international congregation using Spanish as its main language.
Engaging with the community to meet needs through a Community Café, emergency food packages, ESOL classes, advocacy for asylum seekers and practical advice.
We have just started a Messy Church initiative to engage with unchurched families.
Our aim is to build on this to plant new congregations reaching people in places and at times where they would otherwise not have contact with the Gospel.
Trying to be generous
We are seeking to do this
- In a way that makes best use of tight resources. We have learnt how to do things without having to spend too much money.
- In a way that is open handed and generous to others. This includes being generous with our time.
This means that where we see opportunities to partner with and support people for the Gospel we try to take them. It means that we try not to hold onto people too tightly and so we have been willing to send people we have invested in such as Hannes Ramsbner on to new gospel opportunities.
A key part of what we can do and are doing to support urban mission is providing mentoring and training. We are doing that through two partnerships.
- In partnership with Union School of Theology, we are offering opportunities to train for urban ministry. We hope that some of those who train with us will stick with us either at Bearwood Chapel or heading into the Black Country to plant a church but we are also encouraged to see people training with us who are, or will be, serving in the wider West Midlands.
- In partnership with CPI UK we host an urban planters’ hub where those engaged in Gospel mission can get together for prayer, encouragement, mentoring and training. The Hub meets next on January 4th when we will be looking at “Shadow missions that distort or divert from Matthew 28.”
We are not claiming to have got everything sussed. We are a long way from perfect and are in fact at the very early stages of trying to encourage and support urban mission but we are always keen to share our journey with others and learn from each other.
An Antioch Plan
I’ve suggested a couple of times that the Church in Antioch provides a helpful model. Whilst my earlier post really was aimed at churches in more prosperous areas, I think there is a place for and in fact a need for churches that are at the cultural and geographical crossing points who can help make the links between between suburbs and inner cities, middle class and working class, rich and poor, white British and other nationalities.
I hope that this post is helpful in getting others thinking both about what you can do in your context and maybe about how you can partner with us.