Friday, November 27, 2009

Blogging London #5: The Lunchtime Business Partnerships

St Helen's began in the 1960's with a ministry to the London Business Community. I'm glad, because one of our 6 communities is the Sydney Business Community. So we have a model, then.

In 1961, Dick Lucas was preaching to the business community (mostly men) who worked in London. St Helen's was a (mostly empty) 13th Century church near The Bank of England, Lloyds of London etc. But it was a tiny community on Sundays ('a few people and 2 cats'). Apparently, the main income of the church was brass rubbings!

But there were keen partnerships in place that allowed both the Lunchtime Ministry and the Church to grow. From the partnerships, the Sunday Ministry grew.

I saw the big Tuesday Lunchtime meeting, which was good. Mark O'Donahue (top guy) leads the ministry there. I was able to visit with Chris Fishlock (ditto Mark) and his team at the Fleet Street Talks. At the Fleet Street Talks, I was able to get under the 'scaffolding' to see how they do it. And it is about prayer and teaching the Bible. Sure. But it is more that that: it is about forming partnerships to reach their colleagues.

So -- what have I seen that would be helpful at the York Street Forums?


I saw deliberate, prayerful, passionate partnerships in the Business Community. They invite people specifically to partner with them in reaching the city.

We haven't really developed partnerships of prayer and passion at the York Street Forum. Not this year. Sure, we preach Christ at the York Street Forums, and we teach the Bible (with interaction and Questions etc). All good. That's our job. But we need more.

Now, here is a confession. I plead grace in this: we have been in Sydney for 10 months etc. But we haven't included the *actual* business community in our plans and prayers. Can you believe it? We've just got a preaching program, and a time and a space.

I've been wondering why good men and good women (who are passionate about Christ) have come to the ministries for a month or two, and then we never see them again. Truth is, we haven't invited people to partner with us: in prayer, support, evangelism, training, care and support for their colleagues in the office.

I've got more thoughts. But this is all Ill say right now.

Pic on Flickr by Kevin Danks.

Blogging London #4: 'I'll fight the battles'

Heard this great story while in London about the early days of St Helen's:

When new Rector Dick Lucas came to the city to begin his work in the early 1960s (he was just a little younger than I am now), he had some very faithful and committed people who persuaded him to step up and do the work. They were evangelists; they were givers, they were bringers of friends. And they supported Dick all the way. It was great to hear that. I heard this great report of one of them. A Colonel (now departed) from World War 2 came up to Dick one day and said to him:
"Dick, you are the Bible Teacher. I am the soldier. You teach the Bible. I'll fight the battles."
I am praying for more saints like that here at York Street, and all over Sydney.

I have three more posts on 'Blogging London', that I'm hoping to post today. Three topic areas:

1. The Lunchtime Business Ministry
2. The 'Read, Mark, Learn' Bible Study Program
3. The Associate Program (MTS)


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Are you British, or are you American?

Are you British, or are you American?

As in, which do you choose if you had to?

Ich Bin Ein ________________?

Make your choice. You can't say 'both'.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Blogging London #3: Two things I learnt on Sunday

I missed a post for yesterday. But Laurel and I have been sun-up to sun-down with people and churches.

Best part about the whole experience is being with Laurel. We have been free to simply listen and learn and look at Churches without the pressure of leading one (me) or of rounding up kids all day (Laurel). We have grown closer.

Tuesday was all day with St Helens. (With their MTS program; their city lunchtime ministry; their staff meetings; personal meetings; 'Read, Mark, Learn' study and then dinner with Mark O'Donoghue and his lovely wife, Claire.)

Today was a day at Co-Mission Initiative. Co-Mission is not a city church, but they are bold. So they are good to be around. It is infectious. Richard Coekin was kind enough to give us near 2 hours of this time. He was challenging, as he always is. We are going to have to spend some time sifting through his challenges.

Tonight, Laurel and I went to All Souls to witness their training Program run by an magnetic person called Wanyeki Mahiaini.

Lots to say, but I wanted to post two things from Sunday I learnt that at St Helen's that are helpful for York Street:

1. A Financial District Church can grow to a vibrant church of thousands.

Guess how many people *live* near St Helen's?

Go on. Guess.




Maybe 4 people, says William Taylor.

The Church is situated in a place *worse* than St Philip's with respect to residents. People said to us over and over that St Philip's is not a good place because nobody lives nearby. But it's simply not true. About 20 people walk to St Philip's each Sunday. Many of them new this year.

And there are 38, 000 people that could walk to York Street (Postcodes 2000, 2007 and 2009). These are one of the communities we are trying to reach: those who live nearby.

The concept of the Sydney CBD being non-residential is wrong for three reasons:

1. Folklore -- We retell the stories about the time when people were leaving the city for the backyards;
2. Comparative -- we simply compare it to the amount of people working in the city, which swaps the residential population (good thing);
3. Not forward looking -- The City of Sydney is growing as a residential area. Take a look at this.

But here is what I love about St Helen's: *no one* lives nearby, and people *still* come, and they bring their friends. In fact, their friends come because its in the Square Mile, and so everyone knows where it is!

And more than that, if the prayer is bold, the vision is right, the Bible taught with passion and insight and people are trained to serve, then they will come.

It's simply got to be worth it.

That's all.

2. An Historic Church can be forward looking.

St Philip's York Street is old. Oldest Parish in Australia. It has its links on the First Fleet! And we have been given watch over a very old and grand building (the colours, the light and the symmetry are stunning). I like the space. And so do many others.

Of course, this kind of building can very quickly become a liability as people think more about the age and nature of the building, rather than of Jesus and his Kingdom. People can easily give up the best for the good.

We want the building to be an asset, not a liability. Not neutral either. Just used for the Glory of God.

Now -- we are 221 years old.

But guess how old St Helen's is?

Go on. Guess.

The Year of our Lord, 1210.

You heard it.

Like, 800 years old. It escaped the Fire of London. Shakespeare may have worshipped there. It's an Indiana Jones kind of building. Seriously. There are dead people entombed where we all had coffee.

And yet their building is wonderfully used for the Gospel, as it should be!

Now, I know that the conditions are different. London is different. The history is different.

But it can happen.

It'll be a long project. And we need people to pray, and people to join, and people to serve and reach out to their friends. But I've seen something of what it can look like here in London.

If you wish to join us next year and grow this thing under God, shoot me through an email with the Words: "I'm in".


Blogging London #2: Initial Impressions of St Helen's

I've only ever edited two pages on Wikipedia: one of them was on the St Helen's Wikipedia page. A couple of years ago, someone had used a pejorative word in their description of St Helen's, and I changed it to the current description: that it is is a 'conservative evangelical' Church. I'd never been to St Helen's, but I couldn't stand the slander.

But now I have visited the church that I once defended -- even if in an ever so small and virtual way. It is and ancient space (the building goes back to the 13th Century), and it is a city space. I get it.

Dr Laurel and I went to three meetings yesterday: 10.30AM, 4PM and 6PM. And in between, we had lunch with the Fishlock family: Greet peeps, and lovely kids. Chris is a curate at St Helen's -- about my age. I'll tell you more about him later in the week.

I heard three sermons from three different preachers: from William Taylor (Rector), Chris Fishlock (Curate) and Andrew Sachs (Curate). Three clear and insightful messages. A touch of humour in each. Each of them actually set up an issue by asking a question. And then they spoke to the issue, answering from the Scriptures. In other words, not a dud sermon in the day! :)

The most new thing that happened was that there were five adult baptisms. Five adults changing their mind about God. Five adults repenting before Jesus.

I was expecting the usual Anglican sprinke thing. But wooden boards were opened up before us, revealing a massive Baptismal pool in the floor of the church. I love it! Apparently it was Dick Lucas' idea after the IRA bombed nearby in the 1990s, leaving room for creative refurbishment of the ancient space.

Three of the five candidates for Baptism spoke movingly of their conversion. They spoke about what attracted them to Jesus. And each got fully dunked. Lots of joy and laughter and fun. And meaning.

I brought two church two people who are getting married at St Philip's next March. They live in London, so I brought them to church (naturally). I think that they may have been a little startled by it all -- there were about 400/500 young people in the room. And with this Baptism, it was hard not to be confronted by the authenticity of their faith.

One other thing I noticed: the music was joyful. And there didn't appear to be any tiredness; nor cynicism, which is something I see in some Australian churches from time to time. But who can tell from one meeting, right?

I also noticed three specific things that are relelvant for St Philips as a City Church. These I'll share tomorrow.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Favourite Pic so far...

The Little Lady (with her old New York friend) in Central Park Zoo. Click to see bigger picture.

Should this be a caption Competition?


Blogging London #1: Reasons for Visiting

(These posts will be blogged at a special Site at York Street Anglican.)

I'm in London. So is Dr Laurel. Nice. The kids are safe (Stateside) and having a great time with their grandparents. We miss them. We also miss our friends at St Philip's ( I heard that yesterday was a wonderful time with Ugandan preacher Alfred Olwa).

And yet being here is a gift of the Spirit to us, and so we are thankful to God. I'm going to Blog my trip, if that's OK by you.

Why are we here? The first reason that we are taking a break. We haven't really rested since July 08. We've taken a few days, but that was all in a Trans-Pacific move: hardly a break. So we are in the US for Thanksgiving with Dr Laurel's parents. We also visited dear friends at Christ Church NYC. All this explains why we are overseas, but not why we are in the UK.

The reason for being in London? When I arrived at York Street Anglican, I realised the obvious: that Sydney has very few models for doing church in a *financial district*. The Cathedral is our only viable model, as far as I can see.

In America (New York City in particular), the 'city' is a huge area that is basically urbanised (rather than sub-urbanised). If you or your neighbours have a detached home or a backyard, it is 'suburbs'. If it doesn't, its 'city'. So there are something like 8 million people in the 'city' of New York. But many of them live in residential areas. So Christ Church NYC was on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, which is a residential area. Wall Street is a financial district. And the Upper East Side is as far away from Wall St as Roseville is from the City of Sydney. See the Google Map.

But when Sydneysiders think of 'city', they really do mean the Central Business District. And maybe Pyrmont and Ultimo. (The official 'City of Sydney' also includes some Inner Western, Eastern and Southern suburbs, but the city usually refers to the 40,000 or so that live in the CBD, as well as all the people who work, govern, perform, buy and sell in the CBD.) And the suburbs are basically 5 minutes drive away. Even if those homes are not large, they are still what you might call 'suburbs'.

So we are in a new situation.

St Philip's York Street is located in a Business District. I know this because every 'bus that comes off the Harbour Bridge stops outside my home. I go to bed knowing how many people are still at work in the Suncorp Building. I can 'touch' Centrepoint from our balcony. It's finance and cubicles all around us. There are lots of residents within walking distance of our church, but it feels like business and commerce.

So we quickly realised that there are not many growing, vital and innovative churches in financial districts. Not even in NYC. The one church I knew was in the same position is St Helen's Bishopsgate in London. There were a group of us at York Street that surmised that it would be a good idea to see St Helen's at some stage.

As it would happen, I met the Rector of St Helen's at the Engage Conference in Katoomba in October. I had coffee with William Taylor, telling him about the excitement of being in the city, the passion we have to reach both workers and residents in the city, and of the enormous potential of growing a church in this central space.

He invited us to visit London in his classic English way: 'Do come.'

So York Street have sent us here to look at their ministries (mid-week Business ministries in particular), as well as at All Souls, and the Co-mission Initiative.

Laurel has joined me to see things firsthand, have some down time, as well as look at how family and children's minstries are configured in this City.

So here we are as guests of William and Janet Taylor. We have just come home from a day of church. And we have lots to report.

But I'll leave that for the next post. Stop by soon.

Pic on Flickr by Anirudh_Koul.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Want to buy a Redeemer Church Planting Manual?

Hey Australian Planters, check on this: THE GENEVA PUSH. Great work.

Also -- I spent a great lunch this week in NYC with my friend Mark Reynolds from the Redeemer Church Planting Center. Great guy, with a heart for God. While I was visiting, I asked Redeemer about getting their Church Planting Manual sent to Australia. I know that some of you have wanted a manual, but have been prohibited because of costs. I spoke to the guy there who is willing to help us with shipping the manual at a good price.

It is a great Church Planting Manual, and we are using it to help in planting our New Evening Congregation in February.

UPSHOT: If you want to buy the Manual, let me know by commenting below. You can send me an email if you like too. We haven't figured out costs, but it should be around $A40-45 (more or less). That is with the Shipping. We'll work out that later.

I'll be ordering them on Tuesday. So indicate by then that you wish to purchase.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Handle with Prayer

What do you think of this?

It's a new UK Sitcome about an Anglican Clergyman.


Sunday, November 01, 2009

A Five Year Old discusses Work

We are going on a break for a few weeks. I will continue to post here, but sporadically. York Street is in good hands. Dr Laurel is already in San Francisco at the wedding of her friend Marlene. We will join her tomorrow, and go onto the folk's place in Atlanta.

One of the things I will be doing is having 9 days in London on a Study Leave. I will be looking closely and learning from London City Churches like St Helen's Bishopsgate.

In the meantime, that is one cute kid!