I’ve held one back – in reserve for the Bank Holiday weekend. There was more than one great thing that happened last week. But it didn’t happen in Balham. It happened in Brixton. I wasn’t there. I only got to hear about it.
There was a reason we were a little ‘lighter’ than usual in the morning. And it wasn’t just the regulars skipping church. Sunday afternoon saw the launch of the monthly meeting of the new Co-Mission church plant in Brixton. They met in the afternoon, upstairs in the Ritzy on Windrush Square. There were 38 of them, 25 of whom were adults. And none of the CCB crowd were sent to strengthen the numbers. In the text I received from Jay, the lead planter he said they’d had 25 adults, 12 kids and 3 teenagers so (and I quote) ’48 in total’. I’m not sure whether his finger touched the wrong bit of the screen before he pressed send or whether (like all good church planters) he’s already exaggerating the numbers! We’d all prefer there to have been 48 people but nevertheless, that’s a terrific start. It’s more than we started Balham with. And it’s more than we currently have on the books for the Streatham plant. It’s not a bad foundation to build on. And that’s the challenge now facing the Brixton Plant.
For the past two years the lead church planter, Jay Marriner has been ‘hunting and gathering’. He came onto the apprenticeship scheme with Co-Mission back in 2011 and we’ve given him little more than enough to get by on, some ministry training and lots of encouragement. But under God he’s been able to use his relational and evagelistic gifts to gather a small crowd. Using nothing much more than a cheeky smile, a courageous boldness for the gospel and a big heart for the lost, Jay hit the streets in Brixton to meet people and get into conversations. And in God’s kindness, it’s worked. Those initial contacts have morphed into an evangelistic Bible study meeting in someone’s house on a Monday evening. And a handful have become treasured members at Christ Church Balham on a Sunday. When they eventually go, we’re really going to miss them. But, for now, we’ll only miss them for the monthly Sunday afternoon gathering as they transition to a weekly meeting over the next year.
One of the remarkable things about the fledgling plant in Brixton is that Jay has done it whilst commuting from Mottingham, ten miles away. His wife, Julie and the kids have been hugely supportive and incredibly patient. But it looks as though we’ve got the finance together to settle them in the heart of Brixton – the capital of Black Britain as Jay calls it. This will surely help to strengthen the work and increase their public profile. God willing what began last Sunday will in a few years’ time have grown in size, reach and maturity.
These are exciting times for us at CCB. Reading Philippians 1 this morning reminded me that there’s nothing quite like gospel partnership. And partnering with the guys in Brixton continues to be a real tonic for my soul.