Welcome to Christ Church Balham (CCB). It’s great to be able to welcome you; we’re a church that delights to welcome newcomers. I sometimes liken ministry in an urban context to a river. People flow in and people flow out. It’s the nature of an inner city suburb like Balham. It has its own frustrations. But at least it’s not like a canal where everything stays the same and the water is stagnant!
This is an attempt to introduce our church to you. There are lots of churches in this area of South London that you could go to. Lots of them are terrific. I’d happily go to a number myself! So you don’t have to come to CCB. But we’d love to have you join us. But I’d happily recommend other churches because lots of what we do, we share in common with other churches. We’re not unique. But we are different. So what can you expect if you decide to come and join us?
I could describe who we are by our affiliations.
We’re an Anglican church in that we belong to the Church of England. That may not be immediately obvious. But we hold to the theology of the 39 Articles, the foundational documents of the Church of England. I have been ordained into the Anglican Church. And we participate in Anglican organisations. But we also belong to the Co-Mission Initiative, a network of church planting churches that are aiming to fulfil the Lord Jesus Christ’s commission in Matthew 28 to grow disciples for Christ.
I could describe us by our activities.
We worship because Jesus is worthy of our attention, affection and adoration. We pray because we’re dependent on the Lord for everything. We sing because we’ve got something worth celebrating. And we study because we want to know the Lord’s will.
I could describe who we are by the ambience of our meetings.
We’re informal and relaxed. I choose not to wear Anglican vestments; we’re not tied to a set liturgical form; we meet in a dance studio in the local secondary school. It’s probably fair to say that if you’re looking for traditional church, then that’s not us.
Those things might make us different from other churches. But they’re not really what define us. And so I thought I’d describe us by what I think is essential about CCB. I hope that in the short time that you’ve been with us, you may have spotted these.
1. We’re an evangelical church
We’re evangelical and so we take the Bible seriously. We try and ensure that God’s word sets the agenda for what we do and how we do it. Understanding the Bible is not all that there is to the Christian life, but it’s the starting point for everything else that follows. We try to let God speak and live our lives in obedience to His word. We want to know what God’s word means for ourselves, our church and our country. It means that we try to understand and apply the Bible to individual, congregational and national life.
And so teaching and training one another in handling the Bible permeates every level of church life. Our Sunday sermons and doctrine slots, our small group programme for Knowing God, Home Groups, Men’s and Women’s Ministry, our children’s ministry, our weekends away and prayer triplets all have at their heart a determination to understand the implications God’s word.
2. We’re a missional church
Lots of churches think that mission is sending people out across the world. We stand with them on that. But we also think that mission consists of sending one another out across the street to our neighbourhood. Our origins as a church are mission related. We were launched as a church plant of 25 people in October 2002 in order to reach this area of urban South London with the gospel.
Given that we’re a missional church, we’re constantly exploring new methods of enterprising evangelistic activity. It means that evangelistic priorities consume much of our precious resources. Much of our time, energy and cash are directed towards mission. And so we’re busy, we’re knackered and we’re broke. But it’s a great place to be because we’re deliberately trying to help people hear the most wonderful news in the world. Most people want to know that their lives count for something. We want to give everyone a chance to be involved in building something significant for the Lord here at CCB. We’re doing that so that Jesus Christ may be known and God may be glorified.
3. We’re a relational church
We think that relationships matter. They matter hugely in the Christian life. The Bible makes it clear that we need one another if we’re to continue to live with Jesus as our Lord. We need encouragement, support and training from one another. And occasionally we need also the correction and rebuke of friends and leaders to whom we’re accountable. And so we’re committed to providing a place where all sorts of people can find a community to which they can belong. Lots of people live in London and yet many fail to find that. It’s one thing that we can offer as a local church. Lots of people can walk to church and, as importantly, walk to one another’s houses.
Given that we’re a relational church we try and encourage people to join a small group. We’re not expecting that these people will all be your new best friends, but it’s a good place to start! It sounds alarmist but if people don’t join a small group then I don’t expect them to be around in six months time. Small groups are the place to begin to form the friendships that we all benefit from in the Christian life.
In the time that you’re with us we hope that you find us to be
- evangelical; committed to God’s word
- missional; committed to God’s world
- relational; committed to God’s people
There are lots of churches in this neck of the woods that you could go to. If it’s not us then please let us help you find a spiritual home. If you’d like to join us then our three week introductory course ‘Joining In’ is a great place to find out a little more of how you can be a part of Christ’s church in Balham.
To God be the glory