Q: “What would you do with a million pounds?”
A: “I’d put it all on our gas and electric card so we could have the heating on whenever we wanted it.”
A young lad gave this answer recently in a North London youth group. He is not alone. Nearly four in ten children in London are growing up in poverty. Poverty puts enormous pressure on families – including the children, who worry about paying utility bills instead of playing.
Josh Kane shared this story with us. He is working in North London for Innovista – equipping local leaders to grow church in under-reached and under-resourced areas of Great Britain.
Right now, Josh is mentoring a local leader called Simon – a church leader in North London. Simon grew up on a council estate with a challenging home life. Wonderfully, the youth pastor at a local Baptist church got to know Simon, mentoring him and a few other young lads on the estate. Simon came to faith, moved to London, and started working for a church.
Simon’s own background gave him a sense of calling to other young people from estates. His church wanted to reach out to them, but just didn’t know how to. When they came to a service, they found it totally inaccessible: too formal, too traditional, and too intellectual.
The big question continued to be how to take the message of Jesus into an estate culture, without any of the trappings of middle-class church culture.
After many more years of youth work on estates and in skate parks, and completing formal training, Simon launched a pioneering church plant on an estate in north London. The estate was a mixture of old families who had lived there for generations, asylum seekers, refugees, and newly-arrived private renters. Hardly anyone had ever been into a church.
Simon struggled to gather people together. He struggled to work out exactly what the essentials of church were. He struggled to reimagine those essentials in the context around him. He struggled with anger about the injustice of poverty and deprivation which he saw all around him. He grew discouraged.
But last September, Simon started to receive coaching from Josh.
Josh helped Simon to see that he was being driven by anger. He helped him to assess what the community needed, and what tools he needed to meet those needs. Josh helped Simon to focus on how to bring together the disparate parts of the community, and what it would look like to express the Kingdom of God in that community.
Simon started a monthly prayer meeting for the estate. Together with Josh, he looked at the resources within the community – including a local primary school, with a Head Teacher who had no faith background. This Head welcomed Simon’s idea to start a Messy Church for young families in the school building – and they now have 15 people coming along every week!
Another local school invited Simon into serve as a Chaplain. A couple of Christians moved into the area, and Simon invited them to become part of the team.
Josh said that they have seen “three years of growth in six months!"
Simon said that despite undertaking a lot of training over the years, nothing had equipped him like his sessions with Josh. We thank God for bringing these two men together in ministry, and for the encouragements they have seen together so far.
This partnership is a wonderful example of the impact of Innovista in coaching a local leader. However, the road ahead is long. Many new estates are being built, without planning for churches. There is a huge and growing need for leaders who can lead culturally relevant churches.
Supporting leaders where they're needed most. Innovista identifies, equips and develops Christian leaders working in challenging locations.
Together with our partners, every year we mentor and train over 1500 leaders in the UK, Ireland, Ukraine, Central Asia, Moldova and beyond.
Our leaders are transforming their communities, leading churches, ministries, businesses and social action groups, and sharing their faith. Inspired by Jesus, we're helping to grow and build a better world.