Last Sunday saw the launch of Bridge Church Peckham. Those of us who’ve been a part of the prayerful consideration of whether we should go ahead and do this, have also been part of a long and sometimes seemingly interminable discussion about what to call this new church! We settled on Bridge Church Peckham. Eventually. Perhaps out of conviction. Mainly out of necessity.Read More
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Next Sunday we go live. Normal Sunday meetings. This past Sunday was our last as a launch team. We had a magnificent bring and share lunch together. And somehow there was enough to go round. I know, go figure! Remi Adidere came and spoke to us about his experience of being a part of the Co-Mission & Grace Church Brockley church plant, New Life Catford. And he then explained and explored the implications of Jesus’ Parable of the Mustard Seed for us. We also thought afresh about why we’re doing what we’re doing just in case we’d forgotten or become unconvinced in a moment of faithless risk-averseness over the Christmas period! And we prayed.
And so next week is our low key launch. Can you see how we’re ramping back the expectations? You may think that’s somewhat lacking in adventurous faith. And you may be right. But it’s hard to make a massive impact when you’re only 25 people! And ‘launch’ conjures up images of a huge boat sliding down the slipway into the harbour after the Queen has smashed a champagne bottle on the bows of the new ship. It implies making a big splash. And we feel more like a paper boat being dropped into the Atlantic. We’re not sure the ocean of people in Peckham will notice. Not yet at least. But in time we hope. Like the mustard seed, we’d love to grow.
If I’m honest, I’m not sure that there’ll be a massive difference between the launch Sunday and launch team meetings. Those launch team meetings have involved careful sequential exposition of passages in Ephesians, occasional singing and congregational praying. That’ll sound a lot like church to those of you with a biblical ecclesiology! But this Sunday we throw the doors open to the people of Peckham. And they’ll be very welcome. After all, one of the reasons that we’re doing this is for them. As Adrian said in the recent Co-Mission video, ‘there are other faithful evangelical churches who’ve been around in Peckham a lot longer than us. But they’re not going to be able to reach every one who lives here’. Depending on where you call it quits, there are over 70,000 people in the five local electoral wards. We’re not going to be able to reach them all either. Peckham needs more church plants! But we’re focussed on our low key launch Sunday for the time being. And that seems like more than enough to be getting on with. But in God’s kindness, we have all we need in place. We have a place to meet (our temporary home in the Salvation Army building on Gordon Road, SE15). We have musicians. We have a preacher and a passage (Adrian Yeboah on Mark 1:1). We have people. We have a great God. And we have reasons to praise him.
And so, tell your friends. We’re open for business. In a manner of speaking. We’re going to be working our way through the Gospel of Mark until we finish it at some point in the summer. And so it’s ideal for anyone who wants to explore the Christian faith through one of the earliest historical accounts of his life, death and resurrection. We’ll let you know how Sunday goes at some point next week. I need to go on work on a new infographic idea I’ve been having.
So we actually pulled it off. In God’s kindness. I know you were all on tenterhooks!
Like all the very best church planting, it was all a bit last minute and seat of your pants stuff. But I wouldn’t want you to think that it wasn’t carefully planned and meticulously well implemented. It was. It’s just that you know there are going to be some unforeseen unfortunate events! My personal favourite was the moment when we lost power to the keyboard mid carols and two of us were scrabbling around on our knees in the dark trying to work out which lead had become dislodged from which socket. It was only afterwards that someone pointed out that the singlest biggest clanger of the evening had been the bit where the band played Once in Royal David’s City to the tune of Hark the Herald Angels Sing. No one seemed to notice!
All in all, it really was a terrific evening. We had loads of guests so that we were almost twice as many as we usually are. OK, that’s not that impressive if you’re only six people. But we’re normally about 25 and there were only a few shy of 50 in the room. That was terrifically encouraging. For sure, the brilliant carol services at our friends, All Saints Peckham would have been in their hundreds. But the guys who came to us weren’t planning on going to those. And so we seemed to be reaching a group of people who otherwise might not have gone to a carol service at all. That was exciting. The gospel is such good news that it’s fabulous when people get to hear it in an environment that’s conducive to listening.
As expected given the talented line up, the music was lively. The decoration was inspirational and very ‘new’ Peckham. The recycled cardboard Christmas tree and hessian baubles screamed ‘smashed avocado and knit your own yoghurt’ in a wonderfully ironic self deprecatory way. Whilst we’re on the subject of self deprecation, I think I did an adequate job in speaking. I did my best and tried to bring my ‘A’ game. I knew that I had limited time. I’m not sure what people were expecting from what we entitled as a ‘Christmessage’. My guess is that if you go to a Christian event you know there’s going to be a sermon of some sort. But I also imagine they think that’s a ten minute thought for the day kind of a thing. I stretched the ten minutes out to fifteen. And spoke quickly. Too quickly, I suspect. But I did my best to explain that the single greatest present that we could ever receive has already been given to us by God in Christ. People listened. They may well have been persuaded. Time will tell.
It may well be that we do this again. For lots of us, we’d never done anything like this before. New Year’s Eve Watch Night services are a much bigger affair. But it was good to do this. And to do it together. But we’ll probably wait till next December before doing it again!