In the middle of a wonderful sabbatical break this summer, Philippa and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary with our children whilst on holiday abroad.
We had a special few days punctuated by meals at which we often remembered back over a quarter of a century of marriage and family life.
We laughed over the high points, winced at some of the challenges and awkward moments and reflected on how we were different people as a result of it all. It felt an important part of starting to set our sights on the next leg of the journey.
We get to do the same this autumn as a church, as it will be 10 years since our launch in Covent Garden.
As I think back, I remember the giddy excitement of our first Sunday, the flood of new people that caused us to outgrow venues on a regular basis, and the constant adjustments with all the challenges of cost, space and time that doing church in the capital bring with it.
I also remember the dawning realisation that there was an even bigger challenge ahead. Slowly, we realised that it would not do to imitate other successful churches, nor to replicate what we had done in other parts of the country. Rather, we needed to develop our own distinct voice.
To be honest, this was the biggest challenge we faced: it was surprisingly difficult to silence the default way of doing things and work out what was suitable for us in this context.
Now, several years on, things are clearer.
We want to make sure we exist for those who are not yet part of us, which should be reflected in the space we make in our lives for others and the accessibility of our services.
We want to work for the cultural and social renewal of our city as well as its spiritual wellbeing. We think the Christian message is great news for us all and can make a huge contribution to the flourishing of society.
We want to do it all depending on the empowering of the Holy Spirit. We realise that it’s the presence of the Spirit that enables us to make a distinctive contribution and often results in getting more done than we could do otherwise.
These three things now shape everything that we do and have become the guiding principles to every decision we make.
We also realised that many of us wanted to work these things out in our street or workplace, and not just by gathering in a big crowd on a Sunday.
The introduction of Connect Groups has been hugely helpful in this regard. Lots of people are involved in these groups, which enable them to live in a community that shares a passion for a specific mission, whether to their local area, workplace or a particular group of people.
Consequently, we now think of ChristChurch working around two impulses. On a Sunday we gather together for inspirational services that equip us for living distinctive lives, and then from Monday to Saturday we scatter to serve our city through Connect Groups, Life Groups and Social Action projects. These changes have evolved slowly over several years but they are creating a strong and durable church that is very well suited to the challenges of 21st Century life.
It makes me excited for the next ten years. I think we are well placed to put some of these changes to the test and I think we will enjoy lots of God’s blessing as we do. I’m expecting that many people will find faith and there will be many new opportunities to serve our city. I am expecting new sites in other parts of the capital, new churches in this nation or around the world and opportunities to strengthen and encourage other churches along the way.
All of this leaves each of us with a personal challenge too; for when the church grows, its people have to grow as well.
As new opportunities appear we will have to grow in our relationship with God, learning to love Him with all our heart, soul and mind, which is is what we have always wanted anyway. If we can look back at the end of the next decade knowing we have done that, then we really will have something to celebrate!
We would love to find a way of incorporating your memories of ChristChurch London into our day. So if you have photographs or videos from any point in ChristChurch London’s history, we would love to hear from you. Please email us on: