Growth, fruitfulness and pruning

You hear some talks about church leadership and you get the impression that church life is meant to be about continuous exponential growth.

You read some church websites and you get the impression that if your website doesn’t begin with “We are a lively, growing church” then there’s something wrong with you.

We’ve experienced times when our local church has been growing, those times have been encouraging but it’s not always like that. I’ve seen/heard people describing Bearwood Chapel as a growing church and thought “I wish that was the case” because at that point, we’ve actually been plateauing or even losing people. We also are aware that there’ve been periods when a lot of new people have turned up but we’ve not seen conversions.

This week, we had a leaders afternoon/evening facilitated by James Hyde from The Church Planting Initiative and he said some very helpful things about this. Continue reading


Why is theological training vital for urban mission?

We are committed to training people for urban mission. A significant part of that training includes practical experience of Gospel ministry but it also includes a lot of “Theology.”

Now, “Theology” at times has had a bad reputation. It can be a bit of a dirty word, especially amongst those who see the urgency of the mission and get frustrated by those who seem to be bogged down in the theory.

Theology is often associated with academia. It is seen as remote, cerebral and out of touch. It has often been linked to liberalism and the denial of Scripture’s authority and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Yet, theology, properly speaking and done properly is the planter and the preacher’s best friend. Indeed, no-one should be preaching without taking time to study some theology. Those seem like strong words, so why do I say them? Continue reading

Getting Past the Urban Impasse (Part 2) Twinning

The other day I wrote about my desire to see the impasse broken where it feels that those already committed to urban ministry are primarily talking to themselves.

I want to share a few ideas about how local churches in more prosperous areas can engage with urban mission.  The best way to do this is through partnership and specifically through partnership with other local churches.

So, today’s idea is very simple. Why don’t you arrange to partner or twin with a church working in an urban priority area? I’m sure that this is something that organisations like The FIEC, The Evangelical Alliance, Partnership UK, 20 Schemes, 2020 and CPI would be delighted to help facilitate. Continue reading

Getting past the Urban Mission impasse

I feel that we are at a bit of an impasse with urban mission. I have participated in numerous conversations over the past couple of years about the need for people and resources into urban priority areas. However, those conversations have been quite frustrating at times because: Continue reading

Be careful where you draw the boundaries

Here are some more thoughts prompted by recent discussion  about reaching working class communities with the Gospel, by Stephen Kneale’s articles about where you belong  and by my own experience. Continue reading

#ActBC – Why are we asking you to partner with us? (part 2)

A few years ago, there was a local website called “We love Bearwood” encouraging people to love and enjoy their local community around where our church is located. I realised that this kind of helped sum up my personal mission.

I want people who love Bearwood to come to know and love Jesus.

I also want people who know and love Jesus to love Bearwood.

But actually, I’m not just thinking about Bearwood. We often talk about wanting to see Bearwood and beyond transformed by the Gospel. Continue reading

Subversive Fulfilment and me

When we talk about the preacher’s preparation we have seen that he must not only exegete God’s Word but also his congregation and vitally himself.

When it comes to the cross-cultural missionary, there is also the need to do something like this. If the missionary engages in “Subversive fulfilment” when engaging with the beliefs of others, then first of all, he needs to do subversive fulfilment on himself. Continue reading