In Mark 5, Jesus gives a little story about a farmer who scatters seeds, then goes to sleep and “rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how.” (Mark 5:27) How true for us in Shepherd’s Bush!
How do you plant a church in a neighborhood with people who are secular, other faiths or nominally Christian? I don’t know! But, at New City we try various activities to both speak and show the love of God and somehow or other, the Kingdom advances. Like a fellow IPC pastor of mine told me onetime: “Nothing works, so we try everything!” (Obviously, he knows God uses some programs, but we just don’t know which ones!)
One idea we’ve tried more consistently recently is “Open Church”. We open the doors of the historic church we work out of and place a sign on the pavement offering free drinks, snacks, prayer, etc. And then I am always surprised at who stops by when the church doors are open.
One recent week it was an Indian friend who stopped by after work, a Brazilian woman looking for help, a Sundanese man who drank tea and talked about the educational success of his children, an English woman in a wheelchair who comes to New City occasionally, a Bulgarian woman asking for prayer, a young Arab boy looking for a snack and several local mums with their children after the school run.
God is at work growing his Kingdom in Shepherd’s Bush. It’s just that on many days, I can’t explain exactly how this is happening. But many that’s normal for any Christian who’s missional in life. Just like a farmer who doesn’t fully understand biology, we scatter the gospel seeds, and pray that in some way or another, God moves in the lives of people we encounter.