For the past couple of years Anna and I have been on a journey which has led us to the current state of affairs: we’re leaving the lovely local church we’ve been a part of for the past nine years (Crown), and we’ve joined a radical church-planting team in the London Borough of Ealing! We’re massively excited about it and I thought it could be useful to explain how we know this is the right thing for us (even if it’s only useful for my own sanity).
The Bible told us to go
Above everything else the reason we love the idea of church planting is because the Bible does! Simply put, I reckon you should obey the Bible, simple as that. The primary model of evangelism in the New Testament is that of planting local churches. We’re completely sold out on the fact that it’s a great idea!
The Holy Spirit told us to go
But simply knowing something’s a good idea isn’t the same as saying that we have to do that particular action. Why church planting and not building an orphanage in a third world country? Well, we’ve received prophetic words which really helped to shape our vision. For example, summer 2009 a really close friend of ours saw a prophetic picture: we’d been given a burden which had been put on the mantelpiece, but now was the time to put it out in the front garden where people could see it – it might get knocked around and a bit dirty, and some people might judge us for it, but in the end people would be made to feel accepted into the Kingdom of God through it – this was really the catalyst!
Random acts told us to go
So after that summer we decided to take the next step towards church planting. In January 2010, we applied for a church planters’ training weekend called Base Camp, and on our application form said we wanted to plant a church in Ealing. It’s a highly populated area, really multicultural, influential in terms of media and political figures living there, and it’s right down the road from where we were living at the time – it seemed a no-brainer.
But we still weren’t sure, so we decided to ask God to give us a really specific location. We opened up a map of the UK, and right there, in a big circle, sat the word: Perth. Now this was significant because the people who had planted Crown (Pete & Nicky Cornford) had recently announced they were going to plant a church over there, as in, Perth, Australia! Oh dear. That’s a long way to go, but that sign was pretty hard to argue against without simply denying it, which seemed sort of disobedient.
Christian leaders told us to go
So we went to Base Camp with two provisional ideas in our mind: Ealing, and Perth. And David Stroud, who leads the Newfrontiers UK team and ChristChurch London, said to me that he felt that Pete was my spiritual father and that I shouldn’t write off the idea of moving to Australia just because it’s a long way away. We still wanted some convincing so we met up with Simon and Kiralie Leigh-Jones, of X1 Watford, who suggested that as Timothy had simply followed Paul to his various church planting locations that actually this whole following the Cornfords thing might be the right thing to do. Tope Koleoso, of Jubilee Church London, said that he agreed and that following the Cornfords was the right thing to do.
Common sense told us to go
We did visit Perth, but it was pretty clear that it wasn’t church planting. Things simply weren’t as they should have been, and the Cornfords were considering returning to the UK. It seemed that all our thoughts so far had been wrong: we’d thought Ealing but were wrong and had been sent to Perth. We’d gone to Perth but now it turns out that was wrong as well! We returned to the UK thoroughly confused about the future – we loved Ealing, some of our best friends lived there, and it was still waiting for a church to be planted, but we wanted to follow the Cornfords and they seemed to be out of the picture…
So as I’m sure you appreciate, when we found out that the Cornfords were going to plant in Ealing we instantly knew we had to be a part of it! Sometimes when someone asks if you’d like to be a part of something you have to answer: ‘I’ll pray about it.’ Sometimes you simply know that the answer has to be: ‘Yes!’
Perhaps you’d like to be a part of it too?