Sabbatical Week 4 -Reading, waiting and London

This past few weeks I’ve had time to start getting my teeth into the reading I wanted to do around urban mission. This has included setting some blocks of time to read two secular writers to are offering their own solutions to the challenges of modern urban life. They come from different extremes with Owen Jones being on the radical left and Douglas Carswell being a former UKIP MP. What is perhaps surprising or maybe not is that a lot of their analysis aligns. Both see things in terms of a powerful, wealthy, selfish elite who don’t care about the needs of everyone else. Both see a kind of democratic deficit meaning that people are needing a voice and seeking justice. They of course come to different conclusions about the way forward.

There’s also been a little frustration as we were hoping to get some work done on the house this week and as is often the case, things don’t go quite to plan with workmen being available when expected. I’ve never been good at waiting patiently or dealing with delays so maybe here is an opportunity for sanctification!

The highlight of the week was a trip to London City Mission. I was able to meet their training team as we continue to think about how best to train people for urban ministry. LCM already has a fantastic programme that has been established. This includes their pioneer programme as well as ongoing teaching and training for their missionaries. They give time to training and equipping people who have come to Christ and who may not have been through the normal education process. This also means that things start at a basic foundational level.

The exciting thing was to see good quality, deep material being made available not on a traditional ministry training course or in a seminary but in an urban context. There is one day a week in class meaning as well that primarily this is a vocational programme with lots of hands on experience.

In the afternoon I was blessed as Efrem Buckle, a pastor in Lewisham and one of the trainers gave a couple of hours of his time to talk and pray with me. He listened as I shared some of the encouragements and challenges of trying to do multi-cultural ministry in our context. He asked searching questions and provided wise advice as well as encouragement. One thing that particularly challenged me is that the conversation about how we identify potential future leaders from different ethnic backgrounds is well under way but there have been believers, often extremely wise and godly in our churches, even if in small numbers from different backgrounds for about 70 years. Did we sufficiently seek to recognise leaders from among them in the past. If not why not?

It was a surreal few hours, there we were in the busy centre of London and yet in the small park beside LCM it felt like we were in an oasis of peace and calm. There’s a spiritual metaphor there somewhere!