Jesus and his disciples stood before a crowd of 5,000 hungry people. It would take eight months’ wages to buy enough bread to feed them, and all they had to hand was a boy’s packed lunch: five small loaves and two fish.
The disciples suggested it was time to send the people home, but Jesus replied:
“They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat” (Matthew 14:16)
I love London. As a church, we love London. We want to celebrate everything that is good about this city, and play our part in making it flourish.
This year London’s population has hit an all-time high of over 8.6 million people. It is estimated that that number will rise to 11 million by 2050. That’s a lot of mouths to feed!
We want to work for the common good, making London a great place to live, particularly for those who are less well off. We want to strengthen London’s cultural life, encouraging people to create and cultivate in such a way that the city is vibrant and beautiful. We are working for the spiritual renewal of this city, helping people explore questions of faith and pointing them towards relationship with their Creator through Jesus Christ.
As London multiplies, so must we. So from January 2016, ChristChurch London will be meeting in four locations each Sunday:
South: 10.00 between Oval and Clapham North
Central: 11.00 at the Mermaid Theatre, Blackfriars
West End: Around 16.30, in Covent Garden
East: Around 18.00 East London, most likely in Bethnal Green
We’re excited about the opportunities this will provide for us to make a positive contribution to communities in different parts of our city. But for it all to work really well, it will require multiplication at every level. We will need to:
Multiply Serving Teams: We need teams to set up, welcome, lead worship, pray, run sound and lights, provide children’s work… in short, make these services welcoming places for people to worship, find community and explore faith.
Multiply Leaders: Each team will need leaders to provide care and oversight. We’re excited about the opportunity for many more people to use their skills and passions in new leadership roles.
Multiply Finance: It will take plenty of money to get these new services off the ground as we look to hire new venues, transport equipment and replicate our resources.
When I think about these challenges, it makes me appreciate a little of what the disciples must have felt! 5,000 mouths to feed and limited resources that weren’t up to the task. Yet under the guidance of the Creator and trusting his ability to provide, the boy’s small contribution was more than enough. And nobody went home hungry.
In the same way, there is an opportunity for us experience similar multiplication for all we need as we move to four services and seek to serve this city more effectively.
Over this term, we’ll be preaching a sermon series called MultipliCity: A Growing Church for the Good of the City. Each week we will look at one of the early churches, considering the challenges and opportunities they faced as they multiplied across the cities of the ancient world. We will learn from their example and consider what kind of church we need to be if we are to truly benefit our city.
We will run a series of Prepare events for each of the services. These will be great opportunities to gather in the parts of the city where our services will be, to get to know others who will attend these services, worship and pray together, and share the vision for each of the services. We think that meeting together a few times over the term will help build a good foundation for us to launch in January.
Our Love London Sunday on 11 October will be a great celebration of the city, and an opportunity to dream about all the ways in which these new services will contribute to the flourishing of London. We will also open our Love London Offering, which we will take across three Sundays, from 11-25 October.
All of this, coupled with the regular rhythm of Connect Groups, Alpha courses, student socials and welcome events will make for a busy but exciting term. But the greatest opportunity of all will be that of growing in faith: trusting that God will provide as we multiply to four services in 2016.