In an article in the Sunday Times, the journalist Andrew Sullivan reflected on the contrasting political campaigns of Barack Obama and John McCain. He wrote,
‘There are two core aspects to fighting wars and winning campaigns: tactics and strategy. Tactics allow you to seize opportunities or maximise your underlying strengths. But strategy matters more for the long haul; without it, you can be brilliantly successful from day to day and yet lose your direction and focus as time goes by’.
Sullivan draws a helpful distinction between tactics and strategy and their respective roles in fulfilling an ultimate aim. Tactics is what features on our church year planner. But those tactical plans are the implementation of our longer term strategy. Our strategy is the method by which we hope to achieve our aims. Hang in there if you’re not yet loving the militaristic metaphors.
Our aim at CCB, in obedience to Jesus Christ’s Great Commission in Matthew 28, is ‘growing disciples for Christ in London for the world’.
Our aim is to grow disciples and not simply collect them from other churches. Whilst we welcome Christians moving to us from other churches it’s not our intended means of growth. But if Christians move into the Balham area or because they’re seeking a church that tries to live by the Bible, they’re welcome to join us. As a church, we’re trying to help people come to faith in Christ and grow in faith in Christ.
Our aim is to grow disciples for Christ and not produce devotees of CCB. We’re more interested in helping people grow as followers of Jesus Christ than we are in helping them belong to a theological constituency.
Our aim is to grow disciples for Christ in London because this is where God has placed us. And so whilst we’ll take a great interest in what God is doing in other parts of the country and what He’s doing in the world, this area of South London is our patch. We don’t want to be aloof, detached and isolated but we want to develop a concern and passion for this area and the people who live here.
Our aim is to grow disciples of Christ in London for the world because the gospel is for everyone regardless of their cultural background. We have a responsibility to reach the nations because God has been so generous to us by giving us such a wealth of resources. And we have an opportunity here in London to do that.
We’re not the only ones trying to do this. We know that. There’ll be lots of other churches who share this passion.
In order to fulfil our aim we have proposed the following seven strategies.
- Sacrificial Service; in which we’re prayerfully seeking to give of ourselves, our time and our money for God and His mission in the world
- Expository Preaching; in which we’re prayerfully seeking to understand and apply the Bible to the issues of our personal life, church life and national life
- Relational Evangelism; in which we’re prayerfully seeking to develop authentic friendships so that within the context of loving acceptance there’s an opportunity to explain the good news of the forgiveness of sins and the transformation of life held out in the gospel
- Ministry Training; in which we’re prayerfully seeking to help one another develop and grow in our theological knowledge, our ministry skills and, most importantly, godly character
- Church Planting; in which we’re prayerfully seeking to initiate and resource a whole range of new congregations in different areas of South London
- Social Transformation; in which we’re prayerfully seeking to do what we can to contribute to social righteousness, justice and peace
- International Mission; in which we’re prayerfully seeking to partner with others to reach the nations with the gospel.
My intention is that in the next few pages we’re going to think about those seven strategies. We need to be persuaded that there’s biblical precedent for them. This can’t be the whim of the church leadership. It’s got to be God’s will for His church. And we’ll also need to think about the local contextualisation of those biblical principles. This means that the implications ought to be different for an all age and an evening congregation. How we apply these principles in an all age congregation of predominantly young families with pre-school and primary school children will vary from a congregation of predominantly young singles or couples.