At MBC we feel we’ve been given a vision to disciple 3000 people in this part of SW London. We’ve always strived to be warm welcoming and informal, creating an environment where everyone feels welcome and there are no barriers to finding out about and engaging with God. We’ve brought a contemporary feel to a 2000 year old faith, seeking to apply Jesus life and teaching to modern day life to make a difference in our world today. We’ve found that the same power that Jesus demonstrated is available to us today, and we seek to learn to use that better.
A couple of years ago, our morning service was full and to enable growth we put on a second service. We don’t do that right now, because something else happened. We felt God urge us to not limit our community of faith to meeting inside the building on a Sunday morning, but rather to take it out of the building in order to meet people and demonstrate God’s love for them and our community. We found in this simple call, a great challenge, to live more sacrificially, less about what we wanted on Sundays, more about serving others in our world. One of the most famous stories Jesus told (parables) was the shepherd who lost one of his hundred sheep; how he left the 99 safe, and went after the one that was lost. We realised that story applied to church as well; that our priority was about rescuing people with God’s love, and although some do come to the church building for help, vast swathes of the population do not even consider church. So 5 years ago, we began forming groups we call clusters who meet out in the community to share God’s love and learn to follow Jesus together. We’ve made many many mistakes along the way, and are still learning how best to do that, and now these groups meet 3 Sundays per month, and we gather all together once a month. We still have a service every week at the building for anyone, regular or visitor, who finds it easier or better to connect with God in a more familiar environment too.
As we stepped out into this adventure we discovered something else: that we spent a lot of time learning about the Christian life, but wondered how effective that learning was. Jesus talked about following him, and learning to be like him, and we realised that our overreliance on ‘front-led’ teaching didn’t always produce lives like Jesus/was probably a weakness, and that there were many more ways to learn. As well as upfront teaching, we now try to mix our learning with practical experience, training, coaching and learning in community with other people and from each other. It is a hard mind-set to change but the breakthrough is wonderful, and it means that what is learned is learned in a format that can be passed on easily to someone else. Spending less time gaining more knowledge, releases us to be in the community more.