The Church in Regeneration:
Mission below the tipping point
This is the story of an urban church in the middle of regeneration and redevelopment, seeking to be involved in mission but with a small membership and worshipping community. Crossway is having to relocate after the local council issued a compulsory purchase order on the building. It is, however, home to eight other congregations from pentecostal, presbyterian, charismatic and seventh day adventist traditions that bring 300+ people to the building.
The challenge has been to find a way of increasing the mission of the church despite having only a small number of people available to do the work. The solution has been to combine the resources of all the congregations in order to increase mission possibilities. This is being achieved by getting all churches to sign a Charter of Missional Intent. The hope is that by entering into a covenantal agreement Crossway can be involved in mission beyond its own limited resources.
Where did the idea come from? How did it start?
The idea evolved from a users group meeting and was thought to be a good way of encouraging a shared sense of ownership of the building.
Who is it for and what needs is it meeting?
It is an opportunity for Crossway to investigate mission opportunities without concern for resourcing the project. Additionally it encourages other congregations to work collaboratively with each other. It builds relationships between the congregations using the building.
What preparation did you do?
Two members drafted the original charter after reflecting on the guiding principles and took it to a Church Meeting before presenting it to a users group meeting. A subsequent meeting refined the work until it could be adopted by all.
What resources did it need?
The charter took two people approximately three months to prepare the theological guiding principles and pray for discernment of God’s will. It then needed the support of the leaders of the other congregations using the building.
Who have been your partners in the project?
Elephant and Castle Seventh Day Adventist Church, Temple of Praise, AD-UK, Foursquare Church, Ebenezer Presbyterian Church, Glory of God prayer group, Resurrection Power of Christ Church, and Motivational Centre.
How did the congregation get on board?
The congregation was involved through Church Meetings and have increasingly seen value in the charter as more projects involving all congregations are roll out.
What were the key steps to get the idea to day 1 and how long did it take?
It was crucial that the leadership of all the congregations supported the charter and that it became embedded into the mission programmes of each fellowship. It required careful and patient listening to the concerns raised and a good level of negotiation skills. In all the process took six months.
What legislation did you have to deal with?
While there was no formal legislation it was thought sensible to allow Synod officers to review the proposal in case they had concerns about entering into a contract that might jeopardise the URC’s rights.
2. IMPACT ON COMMUNITY
What impact has the project had on the life of the community
Thus far we have managed to host the Robes winter night shelter drawing volunteers in from three of the congregations. We are planning two new day centres focussed on people with disability from an African origin; and a cultural centre for Latin Americans living in South London. These will be led by one of the other congregations with input from Crossway members.
How has this changed the relationship between the church and the community?
The reputation of Crossway being the catalyst by which many ventures emanate has been enhanced. Crossway has increased its presence as a church from which good things come.
3. IMPACT ON THE CHURCH
How does the project connect with your faith and mission?
Crossway is surrounded by rubble, demolition and decay and it would be easy to say that the church is crumbling around the members and there is no hope. By entering into the charter, possibilities have taken on a greater sense of reality and it changes the thinking from ‘can’t do to can do’. Everything is possible and if the mission is right then nothing can prevent from happening.
How has the life of the church been transformed because of this project?
Crossway started life in 1904 as a Mission Post of the London Missionary Society. It was fully involved in the life of the community and served the poor people of the area. The charter has returned the congregation to its roots and given it permission to believe it can once again serve the community, albeit a very different one.
Additional resources and weblinks
Crossway U.R.C. www.crosswaychurch.org.uk
Peter Stevenson [email protected]