PA S S I O N
F O R F O R F O R
P L A N T I N G L O N D O N C H R I S T
EVERYTHING YOU SEE IN HERE CAN BE SHARED OUT THERE INTRODUCING CO-MISSION.ORG/ARTICLES
CONTENTS 6. Our Vision Richard Coekin 9. 10 things God has given Co-Mission John Piper 10. Our DNA: An exciting culture of collaboration Richard Coekin 13. Co-Mission Map 2017 14. Reaching London for Christ: A renewed focus on training Richard Perkins and Andy Mason 20. For such a time as this Zim Okoli NTIOCH NEWSLETTER 23. Antioch Newsletter 3 0 . Yo u r b r o t h e r , l i v i n g f o r His glory "Alex" 32. The calling to Gospel Patronage 34. Created for Christ Richard Coekin 38. Four reasons every church service needs a time of confession Matt Fuller
ARTICLES is the start of an exciting shift in the way we keep in touch with each other throughout the year. One of the most encouraging pieces of feedback we get about Revive is how much people enjoy the Co-Mission session. We love hearing stories of the churches, the network, and the people. ARTICLES is primarily an online platform - a place for you to read thought pieces by pastors, news updates from our churches, and watch brand new content all year round. All this will be shared across our social channels - which you may not already know exist! We even Instagram, you know.
Co-Mission is a church-planting movement that God has been growing in London since 2005 united by a compassion for people in need of him. We’re named after Jesus’ great commission to make disciples of all nations. And we believe the best we way we can do this in London is by planting churches. For the last 12 years we’ve been moving into neighbourhoods across the capital, starting up churches, and proclaiming God’s saving gospel of Christ, and him crucified. In God’s kindness, there are now 20 churches established in Co-Mission, and 6 pioneer church plants just getting started. Every year we meet up at Revive and rejoice in all that God has done through our churches and our network. But then we don't see each other and sometimes don't hear from each other for another year. We want to change that.
Twice a year we'll put some highlights, as well as exclusive new content into a magazine just like this. We pray this will encourage everyone within the network as we hear about all that God is doing in London through Co-Mission. We'd love to know what you think of this magazine, our website and the new content we're producing. Please get in touch with your feedback at co-mission.org/articles/feedback
YOUâ€™RE PART OF AN EXCITING NETWORK
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O U R V I S I O N
WE’RE CALLED CO-MISSION BECAUSE WE ARE CHURCHES I N S P I R E D B Y J E S U S ’ G R E AT C O M M I S S I O N T O M A K E D I S C I P L E S O F A L L N AT I O N S H E R E I N O U R C A P I TA L C I T Y. A N D O U R S H A R E D P R I O R I T Y I S C O - O P E R AT I N G I N M I S S I O N .
We are - a growing family of related churches multiplying our gospel ministry DNA that is committed to being pioneering in mission, training with Scripture and diversifying in culture - an active network of inter-dependent churches committed to generous practical co-operation to help reach London with God’s gospel - for we believe we can do more together than we can on our own
- an evolving mini-movement of reformed evangelical churches that share a passion for planting for London for Christ, for the salvation of many and the glory of God We say mini because we feel small and that we’ve only just begun. We say movement because we’re not an organisation controlled by structures but an organism driven by our passion for faithful and effective gospel ministry.
WE LOVE LONDON BUT REGARD IT AS AN UNFOLDING SPIRITUAL TRAGEDY London is a city with few peers in terms of global influence, one of the most cosmopolitan
There are sobering parallels between London and the tragic sinking of the liner TITANIC when it hit an iceberg in 1912. The loss of life was increased by:
and powerful cities in world history. It is the political, commercial and cultural centre of Britain with 43 universities and around 10 million residents.
1. A desperate shortage of life-boats - as we need more gospel-preaching churches.
However in spiritual terms, London is an unfolding spiritual tragedy: over 90% of the population claims no saving faith in Christ and are heading for an eternity in torment. Sadly only 700,000 people attend 4,800 churches. Recent growth doesnâ€™t reflect evangelism but rather Christian immigrants arriving, especially into Black majority churches.
2. A terrible neglect of poor passengers locked in lower decks while the rich boarded life-boats - as we need more churches for the poorer districts of London. 3. A lack of life-boat training for the crew - as we must train ourselves to become a new generation of gospel-workers.
Of London church-goers, 32% are Pentecostal, 25% are Roman Catholic and 12% are Anglican. There is a worrying shortage of children, young families and men. The 2012 National Census revealed 48% of Londoners self-describe as Christian - a drop of 11% over 10 years as elderly Christians die. 12% are Muslim and 21% are atheist (both up by 10%) revealing the growing challenge of secular atheism and Islam. Only 350,000 attend reformed evangelical churches, most in prosperous Bible-belt districts. This city is a mission field, urgently in need of hundreds of gospel church-plants for every culture.
4. A shocking lack of compassion in the halfempty lifeboats unwilling to go back for the drowning - as our churches need to become lifeboats full of crew dedicated to saving lives rather than cruise ships half-full of passengers dedicated to our own comfort. WE HAVE A BOLD 360 VISION AND 10 YEAR STATEGIC PLAN Our uniting Co-Mission 360 vision is to assist in evangelising London by planting and establishing 360 diverse reformed evangelical churches for the salvation of many and the glory of God! Our ten year strategic plan is to progress our 360 Vision by planting and establishing thirty gospel churches by 2020 and sixty by 2025.
MEETING TOGETHER AT REVIVE IS ONE OF THE MANY BENEFITS OF BEING PART OF OUR NETWORK
THERE ARE MANY BENEFITS TO BEING PART OF CO-MISSION The mutual obligations of practical love involved in being inter-dependent churches has some costs to it â€“ in prayer, financial contributions and the time and effort involved in working together. However, these costs are greatly outweighed by the benefits. These include: - Shared quality training of apprentices and staff - Mutual encouragement for church members in belonging to a growing movement -Mutual support and political influence within our denominations - Accountability to other godly church leaders - Higher profile in attracting roving members and recruiting apprentices and staff - Revive; and above allâ€Ś - Support in church-planting
Many churches across our city and further afield would love to enjoy the support of such a network. So may I encourage us privately and in our churches to thank God and faithfully pray for his continuing work through Co-Mission in planting sixty churches by 2025 - for the salvation of many and to the glory of God alone.
is Director of Co-Mission and Senior Pastor at Dundonald Church in Raynes Park.
TEN THINGS GOD HAS GIVEN CO-MISSION John Piper At Revive 2015, John Piper - founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and Chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary - told us what encouraged him about Co-Mission. From our commitment to reformed theology to our relationships with one another, here are ten things we can praise God for and pray that we hold strong to as we reach London for Christ.
A devotion to expository Bible teaching at the centre of everything
A commitment to robust, God exalting reformed theology
A commitment to be led in a biblical way by godly, humble, spiritual men as elders
A rigorous and intense commitment to church planting
A heart for the poor
A global vision for reaching the unreached
Cultural flexibility in secondary things
Courage rather than risk aversion
A commitment to prayer.
Hear John Piper expand upon these points, and listen to all his talks from Revive 2015 at co-mission.org/talks
“Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…'” MATTHEW 28:18-20 (NIV) God gives each of us DNA to carry the genetic information that determines our distinctive physical characteristics such as red hair or brown eyes. The same is true of the spiritual characteristics of our Co-Mission churches. For while we rejoice that our churches are increasingly diverse in ethnic and socio-economic character, our churches share a familiar approach to gospel ministry – because we are part of the same growing family. However diverse we are in culture, we share a family likeness, our familiar way of doing faithful and effective gospel ministry in London - our Gospel DNA. This is not necessarily any better than the way other churches do ministry. But it is our way. And it means that if you visit any Co-Mission church you will find a familiar atmosphere to the way we do church and gospel ministry. Our Gospel DNA is the distinctive gospel ministry culture that God has multiplied over the years which has proved both faithful to Scripture and effective in London. We need to identify it so we can preserve it. It is not a distinctive theological culture - we want to multiply churches with the same kind of biblical theology (summarised in our Statement of Faith available on the Co-Mission website) as other reformed evangelical churches, such as All Souls, Langham Place, Kings Church, Chessington, St. Helen’s, Bishopsgate and Enfield Free Evangelical. This is not a distinctive social culture - we want to plant a variety of churches for a variety of social cultures. And it is not a distinctive leadership personality type - we want to plant with a variety of leaders with varying kinds of personality appropriate to different church contexts. So what is it? Image created by Vectorarte - Freepik.com
Our Co-Mission Gospel DNA is presented at some length in a new book: Gospel DNA. This book reflects upon the Apostle Paul’s ministry principles outlined in Acts 20. Each chapter has discussion questions for small groups and Church councils. Do read this carefully: our Co-Mission constitution requires that in order to be recognised, and to remain, a part of Co-Mission, a church must be characterised by Co-Mission gospel ministry patterns regarded as are described in Gospel DNA. But how could we summarise this more simply? We have 4 distinctive values mandated by Jesus’ great Commission: “go and make disciples of all nations” 1. GO = PIONEERING IN MISSION Jesus assumed that to make disciples for him we must “go”. In fact his original word is “going” i.e. in all of life, (whether or not we travel elsewhere) we are to be constantly moving out of our comfort zone. Therefore, in all our CoMission churches we aspire to be pioneering in mission: urgent in prayer for the lost, innovative in accessing unbelievers, fearless in proclaiming the gospel of Christ, accepting unavoidable risk, working hard with sustainable sacrifice, willing to have a go and fail i.e. adventurous in trying to plant churches throughout London because we know that heaven is happy, hell is hot and eternity is a very long time.
The first broad distinctive of our Gospel DNA is that Co-Mission plants and strengthens churches that resolve to be pioneering in mission.
2. DISCIPLES = TRAINING WITH SCRIPTURE Jesus doesn’t just ask for converts making decisions, but disciples who follow Jesus through life – trusting and obeying all that he promises and commands in his Word. Therefore, in all our Co-Mission churches, we aspire to expound the Bible carefully, explaining the plain meaning of the text interpreted in its literary, biblical theological and doctrinal contexts, applying its truth with emotional intelligence to our lives today, exalting Christ in all the scriptures. We do this not merely for our education and enjoyment, but for repentant faith and equipment for works of ministry that our people and churches may be built up to maturity in Christ. We read the Bible this way not only in church on Sundays, but in our small group discussions, one-to-one mentoring, biblical counselling and in our private devotions. The second broad distinctive of our Gospel DNA is that Co-Mission plants and strengthens churches that resolve to be training with Scripture. 3. ALL NATIONS = DIVERSIFYING IN CULTURE Jesus was quite plain in requiring his disciples to reach people of all nations in every age (since he promises to be with them “to the end of the age” he is talking about all of us and not just his original disciples). This means we can’t leave cross-cultural mission to a few “missionary types” who like that sort of thing. The exciting thing for us in London is that the nations have come to London for education, business and in search of a better life. That’s why we particularly rejoice in immigration, despite the real social challenges that may come with it.
And this is why we rejoice to live in a city where more than half of us were born outside this country. London is now the most cosmopolitan city in human history. We seek and take delight in the social and racial diversity within our churches and in our church-planting. We gladly contribute to various gospel-promoting denominations and fellowships and we celebrate our partnership in Christ with brothers and sisters around the world, especially those persecuted for Jesus. For we believe that the LORD of the earth who promised Abraham and his Servant King a kingdom of many peoples has commanded us to make disciples of all nations and has filled us with joy at the prospect of the multitude of peoples gathering before the throne to praise the lamb. The third broad distinctive of our Gospel DNA is that Co-Mission plants and strengthens churches that resolve to be diversifying in culture. 4. MAKE = MAKING DISCIPLES TOGETHER The activity at the centre of Jesus’ Great Commission is to “make disciples”. Scholars confirm that this activity is not only plural in its outcome (making many disciples) but plural in its activity i.e. something we do together. There are many biblical reasons for working together as “inter-dependent” churches rather than just “independent” churches that don’t cooperate much e.g. we are not only called into congregations but into God’s people and family with mutual obligations of love. But one of them is right at the heart of Jesus’ Great Commission from which we take our name: making disciples is something Jesus tells us to do co-operatively. Good churches will provide prayer and financial support to churches and ministries far and wide (as our churches do in their giving for world mission). Good churches will also endeavour
to work with other churches of their region (as our churches all participate fully in our regional “Gospel Partnerships”). But the churches of an “organic” network like Co-Mission, that is planting and establishing churches together, can co-operate even more generously and sacrificially. Our churches not only provide prayer and financial support and co-operation in regional mission activities, we share our in-service training for ministry trainees, pastors and evangelists, we share musicians, children’s teams and resources of every kind. What a joy it is to hear of one church offering crèche care for the parents of another Co-Mission church on its annual weekend away and for Hope Church Sutton to be planted with people from five CoMission churches. The fourth broad distinctive of our Gospel DNA is that Co-Mission plants and strengthens churches that resolve to be MAKING DISCIPLES together. We might call this “An exciting culture of collaboration”!
RICHARD COEKIN Read more about the Culture of Co-Mission in Richard's latest book, Gospel DNA: 21 Ministry Values for Growing Churches. co-mission.org/books
T 4 O
5 P Q 6 S
OUR CHURCHES ESTABLISHED CHURCHES A ST MICHAEL’S FULWELL B KING’S CHURCH WALTON C CORNERSTONE CHURCH KINGSTON D GRACE CHURCH WORCESTER PARK E DUNDONALD CHURCH, RAYNES PARK F THE BOATHOUSE CHURCH, PUTNEY
ANTIOCH PIONEER PLANTS 1 KEW BAPTIST CHURCH 2 ROEHAMPTON STUDENT CHURCH 3 THE LORD’S CHURCH LONDON, STONELEIGH 4 LONDON UNDERGROUND CHURCH, COVENT GARDEN 5 VAUX, VAUXHALL 6 MOSAIC MULTICULTURAL CHURCH, NORWOOD
G ST. PETER’S FULHAM H CHRIST CHURCH EARLSFIELD I
ST JOHN’S CHELSEA
HOPE CHURCH SUTTON
K ST. ANDREW’S CHELSEA L CHRIST CHURCH BALHAM M THE BRIDGE, BATTERSEA N GRACE CHURCH, MUSWELL HILL
LUNCHTIME MINISTRIES 1
WESTMINSTER @ ONE
MIDWEEK IN MAYFAIR
O CHRIST CHURCH MAYFAIR P BRIXTON LOCAL CHURCH (BLoC) Q STREATHAM CENTRAL CHURCH R THE GLOBE CHURCH, SOUTHBANK
Find out more about the churches in our network: co-mission.org/ourchurches
S LONGHEATH CHURCH T BECONTREE CHURCH, DAGENHAM
REACHING LONDON FOR CHRIST: A RENEWED FOCUS ON TRAINING
CHURCH PLANTING TRAINING IF CO-MISSION IS GOING TO PLANT 60 CHURCHES BY 2025 THEN WE’RE GOING TO NEED A WHOLE LOAD OF NEW CHURCH PLANTERS WHO KNOW WHAT THEY’RE DOING. But we’re not only going to need church planters. We’re going to need church elders who are familiar with the who, what, where, when, how and why of church planting so that they can make wise decisions about initiating and supporting new church plants. We’re going to need to launch teams full of people that know what to expect in church planting so that they can make it happen. We’re going to need church planting patrons who are willing to generously and sacrificially fund church plants in their infancy whilst they grow towards sustainability. And we’re going to need to become a church planting network who breathe the air of church planting so that we can pray for, pay for and promote church planting. Our great city of London needs many more church plants than we can imagine. And we’re all about doing what we can, with others, to make that happen. If we were to fulfil our ambitious goal of planting 360 churches that would mean one church for every four square kilometers within the M25.
Even with the help of other churches in London, these new churches would be serving a population of 25,000 people each. That’s more people per church than you can fit into the Kennington Oval. It looks like we’re going to have to dream bigger. And plant more churches! Over the next three years it will become my job as Director of Church-Planting Training to do what I can to raise our familiarity with the kinds of church planting open to us. And to do that I’ll seek to provide three things. FIRST, I’ll focus on training church planters in church planting. This is the information ‘dump from above’! I’ll download from a growing body of experience and expertise within Co-Mission, and what I’ve learnt from others. We’ve learnt lots from what’s worked and also from our mistakes! And painful though it will be to revisit that, we trust that others can learn from it and avoid repeating our errors. SECOND, I’ll provide mentoring in church planting. This is the ‘hand on the back’ encouraging them to go further and faster in their efforts to build and maintain some momentum in their growth. Some of my most memorable church-planting experiences have been spent with planters in various locations across London with a big sheet of paper spread out on a table as we draw all over it in different coloured pens trying to work out what comes next and how to make it happen. This tailored approach of bespoke advice to a particular planter in a particular place is time consuming but usually disproportionately valuable in clarifying what they’re trying to do and how they might best achieve this. THIRD, I’ll provide coaching in church planting. This is the ‘arm around the shoulders’ side by side reflection. This has been one of the areas that we’ve been seeking to develop during Antioch Cohort 1. It’s not in place yet, but behind the scenes we’ve been raising up and training
gospel coaches who can provide encouragement and support to our church planters so that they can develop and grow in their ministries. Recent church planting studies in Australia have shown that this is one of the key ingredients to church plants reaching viability and sustainability. We want to plant increasing numbers of church plants that take root and become mature congregations.
And so it’s therefore an urgent and vital need to get gospel coaches in place for our planters over the next year. Although I’ll primarily focus on church planters, I won’t exclusively do so. I will also pursue a broad remit to keep agitating for the work of church planting more widely. I’ll take up any opportunities to promote the work of church planting across our Co-Mission network and further afield. And so I’ll be looking for opportunities to talk to church leadership teams, theological colleges and ministry training courses as well as individuals who are keen to join Co-Mission in this exciting enterprise. Please pray for this. It’s a new undertaking for me and the family. And it’s a new undertaking for Co-Mission. Ask the Lord of the harvest to use the efforts of this particular player coach to enable us all to raise our game as we pursue church planting for the fame of Jesus Christ and the salvation of sinners to the glory of God.
is Director of Co-Mission Church Planting Training
CO-MISSION GOSPEL MINISTRY TRAINING IF WE WANT TO SEE CHURCH PLANTERS, PASTORS, EVANGELISTS, WOMEN’S WORKERS, CHILDREN’S WORKERS AND OTHER SPIRITUAL LEADERS RAISED UP, WE WILL NEED TO HEAVILY INVEST IN RECRUITING AND EQUIPPING THEM. Co-mission churches, like every church, need workers who are spiritually healthy, theologically-aware and skilled in ministry. Without this, any growth in numbers will be superficial and pragmatic. Accordingly, it’s our intention to give a high priority to the training and development of ministry trainees within the Co-mission network. Already, God has enabled Co-Mission to establish an excellent ministry-trainee scheme - which has raised up many gospel workers.
As we look back, it’s easy to see how gospel ministry training has been key to the development of our own network - and also how it has served churches and ministries in many other cities and countries. Our hope now, however, is to develop this training even more so that it can continue to be strategic for the years to come. Accordingly, in this coming year: - We'll be re-formulating the gospel ministry training workshop training we already provide. The plan is to have different modules and streaming, so that it can be even more
effective and targeted. - We'll be sending trainees to the excellent Cornhill Training Course, where they can get Bible-handling skills and input from various pastors and church-planters. - There will be a new opportunity being developed by Pete Woodcock (Senior Pastor, Cornerstone Church Kingston) to train evangelists in a specialist evangelist workshop. - Trainees will continue to be placed in our local churches where theyâ€™ll be given opportunities to lead, serve and teach, and where theyâ€™ll also be mentored through constructive feedback. Our hope is that spiritual leaders, both men and women, with a variety of different gifts, will be raised up for longer term ministry. Maybe you yourself might consider whether God is calling you to become a trainee and think about longer term ministry? Talk with your pastor if you think this might be something you should consider. Or maybe you might consider supporting someone who wants to do this with prayer and finance? Whatever your role and gifts, we can all be involved in this training so that godly, well-trained spiritual leaders might be raised up within our movement for the glory of Jesus.
A N DY M A S O N
is Director of Co-Mission Gospel Ministry Training
TRAINING FOR GOSPEL MINISTRY
E VE R C O NS I DE R ED SPENDI NG TWO YEA RS B E IN G E V E N M O R E EQUI PPED FOR MI NI STRY I N T H E LO R D' S HA RV EST FI EL D?
Co-Mission has been training men and women in Gospel ministry for over 18 years and the opportunities for training have never been stronger or more diverse. We will train you in the knowledge of scripture, provide you with gospel ministry experience in a local Co-Mission congregation and encourage you in Christ-like character. Our training scheme seeks to establish God's people in Gospel shaped ministry DNA for the strengthening of the local church, for the planting of new churches and for sending out across the world.
FIND OUT MORE co-mission.org/training
F O R AS
T H I S
“ W H AT H A S AT H E N S T O D O W I T H J E R U S A L E M ? ” African theologian Tertullian famously wrote these words in the early third century. His point? Reminding Christians that commitment to the gospel (figuratively Jerusalem) stood diametrically opposed to the world’s idolatrous ideas (figuratively Athens). He was echoing the words of Scripture: “don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God?” (James 4:4) and “what agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?” (2 Corinthians 6:16).
C H A T I M E S Fast forward 1800 years to today, and the clarion call of Tertullian seems to have been reversed amongst Africans living in Britain who are predominantly of West African background. On a Sunday, you are more likely to hear that â€œJesus offers mansions and not one-bedroom flatsâ€? (the words of one Nigerian Pastor Enoch Adeboye) than a call to abandon worldliness for Christ-centeredness.
As Nigerian writer Femi Adeleye puts it, what many hear now is “the gospel of champagne” which “has no room for the cross or the real Jesus of the cross”. Externally among West Africans in London, Christianity is a mile wide, but internally, it is an inch deep. One only needs to prick the surface to find a culture dominated by many versions of the false prosperity gospel, hereditary nominalism, disillusionment and dwindling church attendance amongst the second generation. It is my belief that a great proportion of West Africans in this city are convinced they are walking the narrow road to eternal life, whilst in fact on the broad road to destruction.
somewhere in the Lewisham borough, as the borough has communities with some of the highest percentages of West Africans in London. Please pray for me as I begin this work. Pray for decision making on the final plant location in the coming weeks; as I weigh up various factors such as the opportunity to partner with another evangelical church to plant in Catford. Please also pray for God to grow the launch team both in numbers and commitment; there are only a handful at the moment and I could do with more mission minded people to attend a weekly Bible study from September. On my own, I am weak and unequal to the
For me, this has become an unpalatable truth, and even more so as I sit in church or at Revive, privileged to hear consistently faithful Bible teaching whilst many West Africans like myself are left to flounder and perish like sheep without a shepherd. In the book of Esther, Mordecai drops a spiritual bomb on her with these words: “And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14). This also weighs heavily on my conscience. God is sovereign and will save those He has chosen. However, that “who knows...?” has become too significant to be ignored by me - a Nigerian privileged to have received years of sound Bible training. Through Co-Mission church planting I now have an opportunity to do something to reach many who share my background but not the same gospel privileges. This September I join Co-Mission's 2017 ChurchPlanting Cohort, to begin the work of planting a church that will intentionally seek to bring West Africans in this city under the sound of Christcentred Bible teaching. I’m looking to plant
task ahead, “but our competence comes from God” (2 Corinthians 3:5). “And Who knows…?”, God in His sovereignty may choose to use this endeavour to produce a generation of mature disciples of Christ in London’s West African community, who in turn make disciples of their friends and families. As you pray for me, I’ll also be praying that God may perhaps grant others in Co-Mission churches a specific vision to reach the lost. “Who knows…?”
Z I M U ZO O KO L I
is Youth Worker at The Bridge Battersea and part-time theology student at Oak Hill. Zim will soon be launching a church plant in the Lewisham borough. Read more in the centre pages about Co-Mission’s first cohort of pioneer church plants, launched as part of The Antioch Plan.
a pioneer planting strategy
NEWSLETTER J U N E
2 0 1 7
Dear Friends My single overriding conclusion from the experience of Antioch Cohort One is simply this. It’s not an easy thing to plant a church. Of course, we knew that already. In theory. But the Antioch planters had to experience it in practice. And that’s a very different thing. There’s something a little reckless, or perhaps better put, heroic about trying to evangelise a church into being. Church planting is sometimes viewed as the extreme sport of Christian ministry and, although serving Jesus always involves suffering, there’s something in that. The formula for church planting is perfectly straightforward. You need a place to plant, people with whom to plant, a planter with a plan and patrons to fund it. And then, behind the scenes there’s a whole network of people praying for God to grow the fruit. Simple. On paper. But all meaningful church planting happens in practice not on paper, and our first cohort of planters have lived with that reality for the last three years. In terms of the places we’ve planted, the greatest growth has been in areas relatively untouched by the gospel. People have been converted, but Christians have also moved to join them. For example, Fulwell benefitted from marooned Christians joining a clearly evangelical church closer to them, and Streatham has benefitted from Christians moving into the area and looking for church. In terms of the people with whom we’ve planted, the simple truth is that it’s easier when you start with a bigger team! A crowd really does seem to attract a crowd. It’s much harder to go from 10 to 20 than from 20 to 30. When Sam Stephenson started Roehampton Student Church it consisted of little more than him and Katherine! It’s taken them a couple of years to draw the students in. In terms of the planters, not all the Antioch planters would have described themselves as the pioneering entrepreneurial risk takers that we were hoping to recruit. They didn’t quite fit the ideal profile; they knew that and so did we. But they’ve all done the work of the church planter and stuck to their task with commendable perseverance.
In terms of the plan, it takes a while to work out how to grow a church in a particular location. The churches that have seen greatest growth have intentionally pursued a clearly defined plan of community involvement that’s worked. But it’s worth saying that the best laid plan is no guarantee of success. Alex Brito runs English Classes three times a week, feeding into Christianity Explored, in the hope that Mosaic can launch a Sunday meeting this Autumn. It’s taken longer than any of us imagined. But you can’t fault the plan. In terms of the gospel patronage that made Antioch possible, one million pounds is a lot of money. And that’s what has been invested in Antioch over the past three years. Twelve churches have been launched and even if they don’t all survive and thrive, the gospel has been preached, Christians have been matured and people have been converted. At one point last year I thought London Underground Church would have to close. It had shrunk to 15 people. But when Malcolm Riley said that five of those had been converted in the previous six months it seemed a ‘no brainer’ to press on for another year at least. But the truth is that even with the ideal location, the very best planter, the perfect plan, wonderfully gifted people in a large launch group, generous gospel patronage and dependent prayer — it’s no guarantee of success. It’s not automatic. Each of these fragile church plants has needed the providential wind in the sails to make it fly because it’s God who gives the growth (1 Corinthians 3). It’s His call. We do what we can from a human perspective. But we depend on the Lord to determine what happens with our work. Wonderfully we know that our work in the Lord is not in vain (1 Corinthians 16). And whatever happens to these plants in the long run, not a single measure of exerted ministry energy has been wasted. And that’s incredibly comforting. Thank you for praying. This has been a genuine partnership across Co-Mission. People from all congregations have been receiving the daily prayer e-mail, downloading the newsletter and engaging in congregational prayer meetings. Thank you. Yours in Christ,
Richard Perkins DIRECTOR OF THE ANTIOCH PLAN
P L AN T E R STORIE S Jade is a young mum with four children. She attended the Toddler Group held at our previous church in Dagenham and, for 5 years, a member of Becontree Church had been faithfully praying for her. Jade lives on our estate and when we invited her, she joined us at Becontree. And just over a month ago she asked Jesus to help her live for Him. Jade is looking forward to seeing the rest of the Co-Mission family at Revive!
Mike Reith BECONTREE CHURCH Mike planted Becontree Church in September 2014 after leaving his position as vicar of Dagenham Parish Church. Becontree Church is the most recent Antioch plant to be recognised as a Co-Mission Church.
There are so many great stories to tell from the past 3 years. Many have been discipled, many heard the gospel for the first time. Mark’s gospel helped us recapture the essence of grace. Jonah gave us a greater heart for evangelism. The carol service astonished us all, when 70 people turned up!
yes, church growth is slow but this has caused me to preach faithfully, trust wholeheartedly and pray more earnestly”
But perhaps the greatest beneficiary has been me. As pastor, I’ve had the joy of seeing the family grow. And it really does feel like a family! I first preached to a congregation of one, last week I preached to thirty. Being a small (but growing) church means our family is delightfully diverse! I love imagining the bewildered locals as they see our youngest member, a 24-yearold tattooed soldier, take our oldest member, a dear 80-year-old lady, for a walk in Kew Gardens! Yes, church growth is slow but this has caused me to preach faithfully, trust wholeheartedly and pray more earnestly, walking steadfastly on in the Holy Spirit.
We haven’t seen huge numerical growth here at Mosaic Multicultural Church. But there has been great joy in seeing people transformed by the gospel and being fruitful for Jesus.
our church may still be small, but we have a big heart to grow disciple-making disciples, who will plant more churches for the glory of God”
For example, Leticia was one of our English for Everybody students in September last year. Before even finishing the course she volunteered to be the administrator of the project. Although Leticia and her partner Jonathan attended a gospel-centred church in Central London, they decided to join our core team in order to be more active in the mission given to us by Jesus. Mariya was a Bulgarian student who came to our classes too. She became good friends with us but was never interested in Christianity Explored. Over coffee one day, Aluanna tried inviting her again. And she said yes! Mariya attended most of the sessions and as a result, decided to start coming to church. Leticia is now teaching the kids on Sunday mornings and is training Mariya to do the same. Mariya also helps run our International Cafe. Jonathan will be leading the next Christianity Explored course and he and Leticia, who recently married, will be getting baptised at Revive. Our church may still be small, but we have a big heart to grow disciple-making disciples, who will plant more churches for the glory of God.
Alex Brito MOSAIC MULTICULTURAL CHURCH Alex and his family moved from Brazil to plant Mosaic in April 2015. Having built up many contacts in that time, he plans to launch formally in September 2017.
There are so many encouraging stories I could tell, of witnessing God at work in the lives of the people we’ve met.... John seemed like most of the other students who’d completed one of my Big Life Questionnaires. But I discovered his Christian upbringing had been shaken during his difficult teenage years, and he wanted to know more. We started reading Colossians together and it’s been a joy to see him grow. John recently invited his whole Lacrosse team to the CU dodgeball tournament!
he declared Jesus’ compassion to be exactly what our world needs”
Emre was a Turkish man who turned up at one of our midweek Bible studies. After the very first study, looking at the gospel of Mark, he declared Jesus’ compassion to be ‘exactly what our world needs’. And he professed faith soon afterwards. George was a uni flat rep and, taking his rep duties seriously, insisted the Christians in his flat should go to the CU! He thought he’d better check it out too so that’s where I met him. We started reading Uncover John. As we came to Jesus’ death, to my (shameful) surprise, George said he wanted to put his trust in Christ, and proceeded to boldly declare his new faith on Facebook. Sadly, other priorities have competed for George’s initial enthusiasm but he is looking to find a Bible teaching church after graduating. One last story! Sophie turned up at our launch service after taking our Fancy trying church? flyer. She had to leave her course soon after, but showed clear signs of conversion before leaving. Praise God for her growth in her short time at uni.
ROEHAMPTON STUDENT CHURCH
KEW BAPTIST CHURCH Jonathan started the revitalisation work at Kew Baptist Church in September 2014. The tiny congregation has since grown visibly, including many lively children!
Bethlehem Experience at Becontree
Christianity Explored at Mosaic
Sam launched RSC in September 2016. In the past few months they have seen many students come to join them on Sundays and at their midweek Bible studies.
our great problem is, there never seem to be enough chairs to go round!” The great problem at the Globe is, there never seem to be enough chairs to go round! Art exhibition at The Globe
Part of our vision statement is “reaching unreached nations from Streatham” and since most unreached nations are Islamic it’s been encouraging to have lots of opportunities, big and small, to engage with local Muslims and internationals. Over the past 2 years Charlotte and I have been getting to know the Imam of Streatham Mosque. We meet regularly and despite many strong disagreements, those meetings have always been amicable! As a result, the Mosque hosted a public discussion on Jesus and Mohammed — Men of God earlier this year. It was exciting to share the gospel with over 60 Muslims and see lots of conversations happening afterwards. From that meeting Ruth and Noah befriended my local barber, who has visited their home and came to a church picnic. They hope to have the opportunity to read the Bible with him.
despite our strong disagreements, my regular meetings with the local imam are always amicable!”
As I look back on our time in Teddington, I’m reminded of God’s incredible kindness to us. He provided an enthusiastic, hardworking, evangelistically minded team who were committed to having a go at reaching Teddington with the gospel.
we look back with grateful hearts”
Our relationship with Teddington Costa Coffee was a particular highlight. Their generosity enabled us to share the gospel week after week in the centre of Teddington. We were able to meet members of the community and help them engage with God’s Word every Thursday. We may not have seen much numerical growth during those 2 years, but we do look back with grateful hearts. Paul wrote that ‘since we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men’. I’m conscious that we could have gone about things in a different way, but in the end ‘we tried to persuade’ Teddington of Jesus and His glory, and that was very worthwhile.
TEDDINGTON Tom launched Cornerstone Teddington in 2014 with a team from Cornerstone Kingston. The team came back to Kingston last summer after 2 years of reaching out to the community in Teddington.
Eileen volunteers 3 days a week, using her English teaching gifts among internationals (including Somalis) in Streatham. Some parents from the local school want to know why she serves in this way for free. She’s able to speak to them of Jesus’ love for her and for them through the gospel.
Alex Lyell STREATHAM CENTRAL CHURCH Alex planted SCC with a team from Christ Church Balham in September 2014. SCC was recognised as a Co-Mission Church in November 2016.
Mike Sohn THE GLOBE
Tom Sweatman Jim got into a conversation with a young Pakistani Muslim at the gym and invited him to International Café. He came to church on Easter day, took a Bible and seems interested in knowing more.
It’s been wonderful to see the growth in the committed members, as they bring friends, colleagues and neighbours each week. Earlier in the year we had the joy of seeing one of these friends baptised, and we pray that many more will put their trust in the Lord. The Globe has been truly blessed through the overwhelming support and prayers of so many!
Easter meal at Vaux
Mike was part of the planting team that launched The Globe in 2014. Mike has now left to study at Oak Hill Theological College, but is excited to see continued growth at The Globe.
The Vauxball sports activity week has already become a highlight in our church year. It’s one of the many fruits from our partnership with Reach Global and London City Mission. Last year, 18 local children heard an overview of the whole Bible. And wonderfully, all but one parent came to the BBQ finale. Awards were ceremonially presented, along with the gospel! This year the number of children has already doubled and they’ll get to hear testimonies from the Californian volunteers that generously come to help us run the week. Please pray these young lives would be saved!
Peter Taylor VAUX Peter started Vauxhall Bible Study in September 2014. Since September 2016 they’ve been known as Vaux and hold Sunday services and many family activities in the Vauxhall London City Mission Centre.
the antioch plan At Longheath, we thank the Lord that He “has sent out His word and healed us; He rescued us from the grave” Psalm 107:20. It’s been a great joy to see His Spirit at work, bringing teens and seekers in from very broken backgrounds to study the Bible each week. We’ve seen real changes in attitudes, particularly with our 1 to 1 mentoring programme. We remain in a state of radical, ever increasing, weakness with our pastor in hospital with heart problems as I write this, and myself with sciatica all year. We have seen many deaths, including an 8-year-old, and the lives of several fall back into unhealthy patterns. Nevertheless, somehow the Lord sustains, for we know that when we are weak, we are strong in Christ. We covet your prayers, your pennies and most of all your people, if we’re honest. We need mature workers yesterday. The fields are white for harvest and the labourers are increasingly few. Maybe discuss it with your pastor? Then come join us if you feel the Lord stirring you towards a wonderful, sacrificial, eternity-impacting mission field. Thank you, brothers and sisters.
Neil Richardson LONGHEATH Neil started reaching out to the estates surrounding Longheath Church in September 2014 and devotes much of his energy to the ministry at Longheath, which has now been welcomed into the Co-Mission network.
Longheath church family
We have been blessed to have 5 clear conversions to Christ. People of different backgrounds and nationalities. All Christ’s work!
Malcolm Riley LONDON UNDERGROUND CHURCH Malcolm launched London Underground church in September 2014. It has seen slow but sure growth, and now meets in The Arts Theatre, Covent Garden.
Since launching our church plant in 2014, it has taken many unexpected turns! We originally planted among the Koreans living in Staines, and then moved to Raynes Park for a period. Last September we re-launched as ‘The Lord’s Church’ in Stoneleigh. There have been many surprises along the way, but also many encouragements. We recently rejoiced to witness one adult decide to be baptised, and a couple who decided to baptise their two babies at Easter.
Dong-O Kim THE LORD’S CHURCH Dong-O planted a Korean Church in Staines in September 2014. They have since relocated to reach out to the Koreans in the Stoneleigh area.
Let me share with you a recent story to give you a flavour of how God has been working among us; the baptism of LeeAnne and her two children on Easter Day. Lee-Anne’s own testimony sums it up far better than I could…
Sundays at St Michael’s
“Before I came to know Christ my life was a bit of a mess. I was bringing up 2 boys on my own, in an area I wasn’t familiar with. I felt extremely alone, completely out of place, lost and suffering from depression. I received a flyer through the door to Noah’s Ark, a parent and toddler group at St Michaels. I thought, “it’s only down the road... let’s check it out, give it a go”. I was greeted with extreme warmth and kindness and immediately I felt at ease. I was invited along to a Sunday service. The most I knew about God was the very little I had learned at school. But I was curious, so agreed. Although I can’t remember what that first service was about I will never forget the overwhelming feeling I felt in my heart. Who was this man Jesus? I didn’t have the knowledge, but I knew I needed Him in my life. With the help of the ladies in my Oasis group and Christianity Explored, I began to understand the miracle that Jesus performed for me to be friends with God and the suffering He endured for my sins. I have complete faith in Jesus. I trust that He died on the cross for my sins and no matter what I do in this life, it will never compare to what He has done. Knowing this, how could I not repent and turn away from my sins! I will not look back at my past life unless it pushes me forward to reach my prize, heaven with Christ. My relationship with Christ is everything!”
Ed Kendall ST MICHAEL’S FULWELL Ed launched St Michael’s into a derelict Anglican building with a team from St Peter’s Fulham in 2014. They have since experienced wonderful growth and were recognised as a Co-Mission church not long after launching. Beach baptism at Roehampton
3 YEARS OF THE ANTIOCH PL AN
PLANTS ESTABLISHED AS CO-MISSION CHURCHES
233 EVANGELISTIC EVENTS
768 PRAYER EMAILS SENT
GREAT AND MIGHTY
COURSES TO EXPLORE CHRISTIANITY
HOURS OF CHURCH PLANTING TRAINING
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DOORS KNOCKED ON (NOT REALLY, WE LOST COUNT!)
THE LATEST BOOKS FROM CO-MISSION PASTORS
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It was only after inviting the lads around to my place for Christmas dinner that it suddenly dawned on me.... They didn’t know how to use a knife and fork! I looked on with a mixture of horror and disbelief as this scene like something from Edward Scissorshands played out in front of me and then came a sobering realisation. They really do eat with their hands here! I had been playing at it, but for them it was real life. It’s a silly little example, I know, but it was a clarifying moment for me as I shared life with these guys who were so similar to me in so many ways… We were from different worlds.
options, no choosing. That’s why there is no indigenous church here. Did you know that amongst a population in the tens of millions in this region you can literally count the number of believers on your fingers and toes? Christianity is not an option, and why would they ever explore it if they could. All they know of Christianity is evil. Christians like George Bush invaded Iraq and caused IS. Christian movies pour out from Hollywood and pollute the minds of the youth. Christians get drunk, sleep around and even sing rap music in church. You see, this cultural confusion works both ways.
The world you and I know in the west is a world of choices. We’re born, grow up and live in a world where we can choose what clothes to wear, what food to eat and whether we want to follow Christ or not. Our freedom of choice is our right and it was this “cultural tunnel vision” which almost stopped me from coming out here to do ministry in the Arab world. My thinking at the time went something like this: If Gulf Arabs have access to internet, then they can google all they want to know about Jesus and make a decision to follow him from something they see on YouTube. I cut and pasted my thinking onto theirs and came up with a solution to their problem. I now realise that I got it completely wrong and I’m learning just how different my friends' world is to mine. Let’s contrast their world with what’s above... Islam is the only world they have ever known.
This is why Jesus told us to “go” and make disciples of all nations. Clever videos on the internet will not get the job done. The unreached peoples of the world need to see living breathing examples of what Christ does in a person’s life. They need to be challenged by lives of love and words of truth. Crossing a culture, starting a new life, learning a new language is not easy but I rejoice that we are a network that takes the Great Commission seriously and believes that Christ is worthy of not just London’s worship but the worship of the whole world and what greater privilege than to be the beautiful feet bringing good news.
(not his real name) was formerly at a Co-Mission church and is one of our mission partners. He has been working overseas and learning Arabic for a few years and we are delighted to have him back in London this summer.
In their world, women wear black and men white, you don’t eat pork, you pray five times a day and you go to hell if you believe that Jesus is the son of God. From cradle to grave huge parts of their lives are set in stone, there is no presentation of
The personal account of a current gospel patron of Co-Mission God has greatly blessed me, not only in saving me and in giving me a wonderful family, but also in gifting me for a lucrative profession which entrusts me with funds for supporting many kinds of gospel ministry for the advancement of God’s Kingdom. I face the ongoing challenge of deciding how to deploy the resources entrusted to me and I am extremely pleased to be a patron of the Co-Mission church planting movement. God has been supremely generous to me in sending his son Jesus Christ to earth to take my sin on himself and thereby enable me to be reconciled to God. There is no generosity to which any of us can aspire which can match God’s generosity. We are merely stewards of the resources that God has entrusted to us to fulfil his purposes in this world and not ours to do with as we please. I don’t think for a moment I would be where I am in terms of wealth and success unless God had willed it and if he
had willed it nothing I could have done would have frustrated it. Equally if he had not willed it, nothing I could have done would have allowed it. I think the greatest danger of wealth and success is that it can subtly seduce us into elevating our own worth in our own eyes and forgetting that God is ruler of our lives. Wealth can too easily lead us to diminish our view of God and lead us to make idols out of wealth and success, ultimately leading us away from God. I have often found myself succumbing to the temptation to see myself as better than others because of my wealth even if I don’t consciously admit it to myself. Jesus knew what he was saying when he said that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:24).
By reading God’s word and hearing Bible teachers explain Scripture I have come to understand that our lives in this world are to be lived in light of eternity with God. If this life were all that there is, wealth and success would be what’s most important. But because eternity is real, Jesus is above all things. Once our focus becomes Jesus and honouring him, then wealth and success like everything in this life become about him rather than about us. Life becomes about how I use the wealth and success that I have been granted for his glory. I grasped this intellectually early on in my life as a Christian, but internalising it and walking the talk has been and continues to be a work in progress. I do feel called to prioritise word ministry in my giving and what turns giving into Gospel Partnership is to truly partner with the word ministries that I support with not just my money but with my time, my friendship, my home and indeed every part of myself following the model of the great Gospel Patrons like Priscilla and Aquila, like Humphrey Monmouth (a 16th century English cloth merchant who funded the first translation of the Bible into English by William Tyndale) and like John Thornton (an 18th century English merchant who supported John Newton). The greatest need of my fellow man is to discover the means by which he can be saved for eternity, which is what word ministry is about. Relieving suffering is not ultimately going to meet man’s greatest need, though I recognise that compassion is also something we need to show to our fellow man in the way Jesus did himself in his earthly ministry. However, I more often than not find it hard to choose mercy ministry when there is a competing word ministry call on my patronage as the potential givers and patrons for word ministry are scarce.
I believe God has placed me where I am with the resources and the relationships he has given me to glorify and honour him here and now. I used to think that I was a kind of “sleeper cell for God” and would only need to attend to my ministry calling once I finished with my investment-banking career. But now I realise
that I am not in training for something else and that this is where God has called me to serve him and the people among whom he has called me to serve. So I don’t see retiring from my day job to do something else as an option in the near term. I think some good counsel comes from Paul when he commands “those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth” and “to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of life that is truly life” (1 Timothy 6:17 & 18).
THE CO-MISSION PAT R O N S ’ S C H E M E
This is the personal account of a member of The Patrons Scheme currently supporting the church planting work of Co-Mission. The Patrons’ Scheme is a developing initiative which seeks to grow a long-term base of prayer and financial support for establishing and planting evangelistic gospel churches across London. The aim of the Patrons’ Scheme is ‘Partnership in the Gospel’. We see this in the letter from the apostle Paul to the Christians in Philippi: “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” (Philippians 1:3-5). Our gospel patrons are typically characterised by a sense of joyful sacrificial giving and a committed desire to partner in gospel proclamation to the lost in London. As a result of generous gospel patronage, we have been able to establish new churches in unreached areas across London, and have shared in the joy of individuals receiving new life in Christ. Find out more about how you could become a Gospel Patron at co-mission.org/patrons
Five big reasons why a Biblical understanding of creation is vital for Christians living in London today: 1. TO ENJOY THE BLESSINGS OF GOD’S CREATION Understanding creation helps us enjoy God’s blessings according to his Word with thankful prayer - “for everything God created is good” (1 Timothy 4). Understanding God's creation helps us learn to enjoy science that uncovers our creator’s genius in far-flung galaxies and genetic coding; enjoy the arts that display his creativity bestowed in composers, musicians and actors; enjoy sport in which God grants joy in health and achievement and competition; enjoy sex within the intimacy of marriage to share in God’s creative pleasure; enjoy food - whether a Sunday roast with friends or fine cuisine in a Gordon Ramsay restaurant. Each is a foretaste of God’s wedding feast. Indeed, every David Attenborough special celebrating the wonders of the natural world proclaims the grace of our creator, for “the heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19) with a song that can never be silenced by hostile evolutionary theory. While the world may be hedonistic and scorn its creator, and some churches are ascetic and scorn his kindness, a biblical doctrine of creation will help our Co-Mission churches to enjoy the blessings of God’s creation.
2. TO GRASP THE HORROR OF OUR SIN We displace our creator in our sinful devotion to created things: whether to career and status or wealth and comfort, to our children’s education or our grandchildren’s achievements, to our entertainment and sexual excitement or our physical appearance and popular image: we turn “good” things into “god” things that consume immensely sacrificial devotion but cannot satisfy or save us. We discover what really functions as our “god” in what we day-dream about having, where we turn in trouble, or what we’re devastated to lose. If we drool over Grand Designs, throw cash at every problem and cannot contemplate downsizing our accommodation then whatever we sing in church, our god is really money. The folly of such idolatry becomes obvious when we don’t just ignore our creator but try to replace him. As Jesus predicted, the tenants of God’s vineyard said, “This the heir! Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance!” (Matthew 21) Now Western culture and worldly churches proudly claim, “we can be what we want: we choose our own morality, our own version of marriage, our own gender: no-one tells us what to believe - for truth doesn’t matter - or how to behave - there’s no right or wrong! We just choose what works for us, because we’re worth it!
We’re like the residents of Ashurst Wood village who in Jan. 2000 declared themselves “The People’s Republic of Ashurst Wood Nations State” (PRAWNS for short) independent of the British government. They issued passports and set up road-blocks under a retired army colonel. The rebellion collapsed when they couldn’t issue passports quickly enough for all the postmen and milkmen they needed. Tragically that’s how the world and worldly churches treat our creator: but a biblical doctrine of creation will help our Co-Mission churches to grasp the horror of our sin. 3. TO CHERISH BEING HUMAN The Bible celebrates that however physically broken, emotionally damaged or mentally ill, every human being is precious to God, for, “you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139). We are each lovingly fashioned, physically and psychologically, in our mother’s womb, according to the Image of God who is Christ. We’re designed to be like God in being personal, plural, responsible and receptive to his word and to enjoy becoming like Christ. So we love everyone in every way we can, especially our neighbours, especially the needy and especially with the gospel, the most precious gift of all. While those on the left dispose of human beings in abortion and euthanasia and those on the right despise human beings in their racism and classism, a biblical doctrine of creation will help our CoMission churches to appreciate others and to cherish being human.
4. TO STIMULATE OUR LONGING FOR THE NEW CREATION The Genesis account of creation at the beginning of history not only explains our origins but also prepares us for the Revelation account of the new creation at the end of history for which we’re reborn through the gospel. Reading of Adam and Eve walking with their creator in the garden of Eden with its rivers and tree of life stirs our longing for the joy of the new Jerusalem in reigning with our redeemer: sustained by the river of the water of life (abundant life in the Spirit) and by the tree of life (the healing of the cross). Therefore, Jesus said, “do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth …but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” (Matthew 6) While worldly people and churches labour for the temporary trinkets of London culture, a biblical doctrine of creation will revive in our churches a commitment to work for the new creation: working for compassion and justice in society now with a sober awareness that this world can never be healed or fixed but will have to be destroyed and renewed, as Jesus was in his death and resurrection. What will last forever is the holiness with which we work and the eternal life which we begin when we are united by faith in the gospel with the resurrected Christ. But above all, creation teaches us… 5. TO GLORIFY CHRIST For the Colossian church tempted by false teachers to supplement faith in Christ with their human ideology, religious tradition and visionary experiences, Paul begins to celebrate the sufficiency of Christ by exploring his magnificence as our creator.
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in all things he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. COLOSSIANS 1:15-20 15
Paul mentions “all things” seven times and gives examples including those who do evil whom he intends to judge: "things in heaven [like angels] and on earth [like terrorists] visible [like the planets] or invisible [like witchcraft] whether thrones [of Saudi Kings] or the powers [of Microsoft], or rulers of nations [like Kim Yong Un] or authorities [like Islamic fundamentalism]" Nothing exists unless Christ creates and sustains it. And his sovereign purpose is amplified in two ways. Firstly: “so that in all things he might have the supremacy” (verse 18) God’s purpose in creation is Christ’s supremacy. As loving parents might help their son buy a flat in London and encourage him to decorate and choose furniture to make it his own home, so God the Father’s purpose in creation is for his Son to design his own home, decorating the sky with stars and the earth with people, as his own home in which we are privileged guests and he is supreme so we serve him. Secondly: ”to reconcile to himself all things” The second glorious purpose of creation is Christ’s reconciliation of all things. This is stunning: our reconciliation to God by his bloody death for our sin on the cross is not solving a fault in creation, but fulfilling the purpose of creation. God created us knowing we’d rebel and need saving
so that Christ would eternally have a grateful people, his loving bride. The story is told of a little girl cruelly snatched from her parents on a holiday cruise by Somali pirates demanding a huge ransom for her safe return: the parents eventually scraped together everything they had to free their daughter. When the traumatic exchange had finally been made and they were finally flying home in safety, the little girl lifted her head and was heard to say to her parents, “you have loved me twice: you made me and then you paid for me: so I am yours twice over”! Likewise, Christ has twice loved us in both creating us and reconciling us: we are his twice over. Unlike the world and worldly churches that neither worship nor love Jesus a biblical understanding of creation will help our Co-Mission churches to worship Christ for his supremacy and to love Christ for his reconciliation, filled with joyful delight to glorify Christ for his creation and his cross. This article is based on a talk given by Richard Coekin at Revive 2017. Hear the talk at c o - m i s s i o n . o r g / t a l k s
EVERY CHURCH SERVIC NEEDS A TIME OF CONFESSION M AT T F U L L E R
Confession is inherent to the Christian life. We approach the Lord as sinners who are loved and forgiven as his children. That’s who we are. If we neglect either, our Christian life is going to get distorted pretty quickly and so we want to remember both when we gather as church. Here are some reasons why having a corporate confession matters: 1. IT IS WORSHIP THAT THE LORD DELIGHTS IN “These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.” (Isaiah 66:2)
I DON'T GET OUT MUCH. That is, I’m a church pastor and so I don’t get to visit lots of churches that frequently. So when I had a sabbatical a couple of years ago, I took the opportunity to attend a number of different churches. There was lots that I loved and I learned from in other churches but I also realised that having a time of corporate confession in church had become a rarity. I think this is unhealthy.
Every church is going to say that it worships God when it gathers. Yet one thing that honours the Lord and worships Him rightly is humble confession; a contrite spirit. He looks in favour upon those who come before Him and say “We’re truly sorry and repentant.” Why would we ignore something that the Lord looks on with favour? 2. IT IS THE SHAPE OF CHRISTIAN LIVING The whole Christian life is one of repentance and faith. Repentance should deepen our delight in the gospel.
T H E C O R P O R AT E C O N F E S S I O N I S A R E M I N D E R T H AT W E N E E D T O B E G R AC I O U S TO O N E A N OT H E R
Without it, our thanks for the cross is a vague pleasure in someone being kind to us. With repentant confession we are acknowledging our deep need.
The corporate confession is a reminder that we need to be gracious to one another. Some of us hide our sin pretty well. But we all still have it.
Confession also allows us to be honest and real with ourselves and one another. We don’t have to pretend that we’re good people. We can admit that we’ve done all sorts of things wrong that week, which means that we only approach the Lord through the forgiveness won by Christ.
4. THE BIBLE MODELS IT There are some obvious moments in the Bible when the people of God gather and express their collective guilt:
So we should come to confession with both regret and relief. A deep regret at how we’ve failed our heavenly father but a wonderful relief that he still loves us. I’m conscious that for some believers, Sunday really is where they meet with God. There may not have a daily time of devotion and limp through with a perfunctory prayer life. So, it’s essential that we help these people live an authentic Christian life. That means confession and then words of gospel assurance. There’s a sense in which we always live at the foot of the cross – conscious of our sin but praising our saviour. 3. IT PREVENTS SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS Corporate confession is a great leveller. It’s something every person in church does and so we’re declaring that all of us have fallen short of the glory of God and all of us need to come for forgiveness. A corporate confession prevents our “inner Pharisee” from looking around the room and saying: “God I thank you that I’m not like…”
"The Israelites gathered together, fasting and wearing sackcloth and putting dust on their heads…They stood in their places and confessed their sins." (Nehemiah 9 v 1) Then there a number of Psalms which are personal confession and yet they’ve been turned into corporate songs to be sung when believers gather: “For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba. Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” (Psalm 51 v 1-2) “You, God, know my folly; my guilt is not hidden from you.” (Psalm 69 v 5) You have to cut out a lot of Psalms to avoid corporate confession! Before finishing, let me address two of the most common comments people make: It shouldn’t be gloomy. It should be reality. A confession should always be followed with words of assurance. In our church we often follow the confession
and assurance with a song focussing upon the cross and our forgiveness.
ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father; We have erred, and strayed from your ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against your holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have do; And there is no health in us.
It’s healthy Christian living to have a corporate confession and then words of gospel assurance. Using some well written ones from the past is good for us! Confessions from the Puritan prayers from The Valley of Vision have startling language which makes us pause and think. And don’t forget the Bible! It’s natural to use sections of penitential psalms like Psalms 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130 or 143.
But you O Lord have mercy upon us, miserable offenders. You spare those, O God, who confess their faults. You restore those who are penitent; According to thy promises declared unto mankind in Christ Jesus our Lord. And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake; That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, To the glory of your holy Name. Amen
And finally, the prayer of confession in The Book of Common Prayer.
M AT T F U L L E R is Senior Pastor at Christ Church Mayfair and Chair of the Co-Mission Pastorate.
ALMIGHTY God, our heavenly Father, who of his great mercy hath promised forgiveness of sins to all those who, with hearty repentance and true faith, turn unto him; Have mercy upon you; pardon and deliver you from all your sins; confirm and strengthen you in all goodness; and bring you to everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Find out more about his new book Perfect Sinners at co-mission.org/books
UPCOMING EVENTS 14 OCTOBER 2017 London Women's Convention Speaker: Jen Wilkin at The Emmanuel Centre (organised by Christian Conventions)
7 JANUARY 2018 Co-Mission Sunday
20 JANUARY 2018 Co-Mission Women's Morning at Dundonald Church
2 JUNE 2018 London Men's Convention Speaker: John Piper (organised by Christian Conventions)
22-24 JUNE 2018 REVIVE at The University of Kent in Canterbury
Keep up to date with Co-Mission events co-mission.org/events
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