How’s Brixton going? It’s a great question and I get it from people who are genuinely interested in what Jay, Felix and the team are doing in the capital of black Britain. Jay’s too busy being a model husband, father, student and pastor to have time to keep us up to speed of all the exciting developments. And so, given that others’ expectation of my performance in those areas is much lower, I decided I’d do it for him.
The Brixton Plant has recently decided on its’ own name – BLoC – Brixton Local Church. I caught up with Jay to ask him how things were progressing on the block. Who says I’m not totally at ease with street culture!
This is an interview that I did recently for the Co-Mission Gospel Patrons’ Newsletter about his involvement in the Proclamation Trust’s Cornhill Training Course.
Me: Jay what’s been happening in Brixton since the last Patrons’ Newsletter?
Jay Marriner: God’s being very kind to us. It’s certainly tough and at times it can be discouraging. However, thankfully God’s still passionately into the business of changing lives, which means He’s grown our work. It’s great news and good to be a part of. The Bible study on a Monday night is still going well. There are around eleven us who meet faithfully. It’s only a small flat and we cram into it. But it’s worth it because Jesus rocks up every week. We’re coming to the end of Ephesians. It’s been a perfect book for us as a group. People are really growing in the gospel. It’s been good to see God’s grace lead people to make significant changes in their lives. We started a second group but sadly it didn’t take off. It became clear that there was a need for more 1-2-1, relational Bible reading first before we formed another group. However, thankfully that’s a possibility that’s just on the horizon. God’s also been gracious in allowing us to work with a number of black boys in Brixton. We’ve put a mentoring project into a local secondary School. We’re hoping that this will enable me to work with a number of families in Brixton. Alongside that I’m meeting people to read the Bible 1-2-1 and still making contacts. It’s great that God is growing His work.
Me: So what exactly is Cornhill and why are you doing it?
JM: Cornhill is a training course with the primary aim of training preachers. It’s great! And I mean that! I’m doing it because it’s helping me to get a better handle on the Bible. I’m learning about Bible books, theology, doctrine, ethics and we have some great guest speakers. I’m learning lots. I’m doing it because I want to be equipped for ministry in Brixton and I’m confident that Cornhill can help me to do that.
Me: And why is what you’re learning at Cornhill so important for what you’re trying to do (God-willing) in Brixton?
JM: Cornhill is important because it’s all about the proclamation of God’s word so that sinners might be saved from hell. It equips you to do that. Especially in planting into Brixton because a central part of our gospel strategy is small group work. That means 1-2-1 reading and Bible studies. Cornhill is great in helping me better understand the Bible. Also it’s helping me to be a better preacher. The preaching groups provide a place to train and provide insightful feedback. This, combined with all the other things that you learn at Cornhill, makes it so helpful in planting.
Me: So is your training helping you as you seek to plant a church in Brixton?
JM: My training is really helping me as a plant into Brixton because I’ve got a better grasp of God’s word. And, as a result of a year’s training, I’m better at handling God’s word. It’s been great to open up the Bible with confidence. It’s also been good to apply doctrine, Christian counselling, a theology of prayer and so on to Church planting into Brixton. I have to say that Cornhill has been a massive help in planting into an urban area like Brixton. And I’m not sure that I’d have recognised that beforehand.
Me: You wouldn’t strike most people as a typical Cornhill-er. Is that true? Or fair?
JM: Nope, I’m not a typical Cornhillite. But it’s good. It’s good to train with people who are not like me. It stretches me! Cornhill comes completely from a different cultural world than me. But that’s ok. Given what you learn it’s worth it! And, to be honest, there are some great people on the course. You’re right, I’m not the typical Cornhillite but I certainly feel at home. I must say that I’m aware that none of this would be possible without the kind support of Co-Mission and the Gospel Patrons. They’re great and God is using them to grow a work. Their financial support has enabled plant into Brixton but also my training. As a family, we’re really grateful for that. We praise God for the Patrons.
Jay is coming to the end of his first year on Cornhill. And I think it would be fair to say that not only has Cornhill improved Jay but he’d have you believe that it’s true vice versa! He, Julie and the kids are trying to move into the Brixton area and Affordable Christian Housing together with Co-Mission Gospel Patrons are working together to answer our prayers. It’s been a good year and we’re so grateful to God for the progress we’ve seen.