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.
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".