One Church’s Journey to Effective Mission

In December of 2015 the leadership team of the then Good News Church was challenged to articulate its vision for where it saw itself in 5 years’ time and outline its strategy for getting there. The simple truth was that we had no more than a vague picture of where we were going and an outdated and ineffectual strategy for getting there… wherever “there” was!  Whilst we had a full program, a good reputation in the community and a large list of contacts on our fringe, our numbers had plateaued, conversions and baptisms were few and far between… we were maintaining what we had but by no stretch of the imagination could we be said to be effective in mission and growing as a church. Realistically there was only one trajectory from our current position, and that was down.

We had a choice.  We could hang on in there and “decline in good order” or we could take steps to find that much needed Vision and Strategy to take the church forward.  That night birthed a new resolve.  The church needed to change… and radically.

The following eighteen months were the toughest we had experienced.  Circumstances seemed set to conspire against us as elders, as we sought to shape a new Vision, Mission and Strategy for the church; but persevere we did, and we emerged into the Autumn of 2017 with a new name and a new mission.  Good News Church would become Journey Church Harrow and our old tag line “Making Jesus Known in the Community” (which had served us well in the past) would be replaced by “Creating Lifelong Followers of Jesus”.  For the next six months we taught and taught and taught on the importance and centrality of Discipleship in the Mission of the Church.  We made significant changes to the shape and structure of our Sunday Morning gathering. We changed our whole style of teaching, moving from straight preaching to interacting storying and discussion and went live as Journey Church Harrow in March 2018.  Those six months we not easy.  We met with repeated pushbacks from those who found change difficult, we had to say goodbye to those who found change impossible, but we persevered because we knew that change was essential.

We had come a long way from that shocking challenge in 2015 but there was still one thing missing.  We knew that discipleship[1] was at the core of what we were called to do as a church; we knew the end goal was to see the creation of a community of “disciples-making disciples”[2] mature in Christ; but we still had no idea how to get there.

Without knowing it, I had the answer to this problem… sitting in my in-tray.

I had been introduced to Steve Addison at the 2015 Exponential Conference in Manchester and to his “Following & Fishing”[3] resource.  The resource had sat on my desk for three years.  It looked good, but I did not have a clue how to use it.

A chance conversation with Rob Santer (CVM London) in June of 2018 gave me access not only to someone who knew how to use this amazing tool, but to someone who was using it effectively and was also prepared to show us.  Rob workshopped the tool with our elders, then with the church; and then we workshopped it a lot more among ourselves. At the end of July 2018, we launched a new outreach project, with a team of just four, that has borne more fruit in the last 12 months than we had seen in the last twenty years (and the previous twenty years before that, probably).

Using a simple offer of prayer coupled with some equally simple tools for sharing the gospel we have visited some 800 plus homes, seen 8 people come to faith, seen countless answers to prayer, seen significant spiritual growth in many who are “so close to the kingdom”. We have upwards of 50 homes that would welcome us back for further conversations.  Along the way we have connected with 18 believers from other churches who are keen to be trained.  Two have been trained so far and have now joined our team. We have renamed the project NoPlaceLeftHarrow.

We have more people to disciple and more people to revisit than we can handle. We have made connections with Move, NoPlaceLeftEngland and IMG as we look to enlarge our volunteer core. They have helped us tremendously to fill out the Vision and the Strategy. What we are doing is infectious. So far, we have responded to invites to share and train believers in other churches in Ilford, Barnet and Maidstone, with further invitations pending elsewhere.

In all of this we are still learning.  We now have the Big Vision, the Clear Path and the Simple Tools we need for effective mission. As fast as we are learning we are giving away what we learn to others, and then looking to learn more ourselves so that we can give that away as well.

If you want to know more, we would be more than happy to talk with you. Drop me an email at servinghischurch@gmail.com

“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Luke 10:02)

John Jenkins

Elder – Journey Church Harrow

Partnership Regional Co-ordinator for London and the South East

[1] We defined Discipleship as “Helping people Trust and Follow Jesus”.

[2] We defined a Disciple as someone who “Follows Jesus, Is being changed by Jesus and is Committed to the mission of Jesus”.

[3] To see this resource, go to https://www.movements.net/training

[4] Big Vision, Clear Path and Simple Tools represents the framework for the resources we are now using.

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