Angus Ritchie (Director of CTC and Priest in Charge of St George-in-the-East) blogs on two new church plants which are using community organising to make disciples and challenge injustice…
Through our research and our work with inner-city congregations, we are increasingly seeing a connection between community organising and numerical growth. Churches are likely to make new disciples when they are both willing to work with their neighbours for the common good and intentional about becoming more inviting and accessible to those who want to explore the Christian faith .
I have written about this “both/and” approach in a blog for the think-tank Theos – and Shermara Fletcher explains how this is being put into practice in the Chaplaincy at a pioneering new East London school.
This “both/and” approach has been at the heart of our partnership with the parish of St George-in-the-East. The practices of community organising has helped us to renew a declining congregation – and to lay the foundations to plant more congregations in 2017.
Because of church planting in the nineteenth century (when new congregations started to worship in the south and east of the original parish), St George-in-the-East Church stands on the eastern edge of its current area. To reach the other neighbourhoods in the parish – and especially people who might not be able to come to church on a Sunday morning, because of their patterns of work – we are planting two new congregations. These are being supported with funding from the Diocese of London as part of its Capital Vision programme, which seeks to launch 100 New Worshipping Communities across the capital by 2020.
On 1st February, we will launch Choir Church – a weekly Eucharist every Wednesday at 4.30pm at our church school, which is in the centre of the parish. On the first Wednesday of the month, the service will be sung by a new children’s choir led by Tom Daggett (who used to work for CTC as the Co-ordinator of our SingSpire programme).
We also have plans to launch a Hidden Workers’ Church for those who clean and guard the offices and hotels at the western end of the parish. From our initial listening process, we are planning a combination of Bible study, language classes and organising for justice.
The hallmarks of community organising are heart of these new churches. They are embodied in the way the teams which are planting the churches have been trained, and in the way the congregations will have a focus on building a relational culture, developing new leaders, and engaging with their neighbours to challenge injustice.
Please pray for all those involved in these two church plants, and for the communities they are to serve!