Church Multiplication in Europe’s Major Cities
“The Wesleyan Church around the globe is increasingly aware that there needs to be an emphasis on reaching highly populated diverse urban areas.” –Ed Love, Director of Multiplication for The Wesleyan Church
Strategically Positioned in Changing Communities
As urban populations grow, churches will increase in order to reach their new neighbors. Many of the 14 Wesleyan Holiness churches in the British Isles District are in urban centers. They were started decades ago, and over the years the neighborhoods around them have grown and diversified.
Some of their neighbors have really tough lives. Many of them are from Muslim backgrounds. These churches are now in a great position to create a loving community and offer transformation through Jesus.
The Demands of Diversity
Pastor Cassius Francis from Wolverhampton, England, described how his church members are stepping up to embrace their neighbors even when it demands personal sacrifices. “As the senior pastor, I am questioning our congregation about what it would mean to be a church that better reflects the local community. That is an uncomfortable space for some who see the church as their ‘safe place’—particularly when many have faced overt and covert racism and discrimination. However, I am arguing that if we are to be true to the gospel of Jesus Christ and believe that we can grow as a congregation, we must strive to be more reflective of our diverse community.
“Our church in Wolverhampton is 99.9% black, with most of our roots in Jamaica. We have a lot to celebrate about our culture—the sense of family, the commitment to community, the music, the color, the humor, our resilience. But, we have faced and still face challenges—the over-representation of black people in our prisons, in our mental health institutions, affected by poverty, underachieving at school, and among those who are unemployed.”
An Innovative Approach
Pastor Troy Evans, North American Urban Church Planting Catalyst, recently visited the United Kingdom with his wife, Dawn, to teach and lead discussions about church planting and discipleship with several Wesleyan Holiness leaders. When Pastor Troy returned home he said, “The genuine love and community that flows out of all the churches we visited was incredible. We were both encouraged to see so many believers, young and more-seasoned, ready to engage in disciple making. I truly believe that the Wesleyan Holiness Church has some of the necessary components to reach more people for Jesus in the next 10 years than it has in the past 50 years!”
Hospitality, the arts, and business opportunities are creating venues for mutual relationships and discipleship. One Wesleyan Holiness church in East London has created a gospel choir that is open to anyone in the community. At their last concert, more than 50 ethnic groups attended. British Pastor Ruth Lowe said, “This has been a stretching and wonderful experience for us. For the first time in years, we were in the local press. And the mayor of Waltham Forest [a borough in East London] attended the last concert.”
Strategically Meeting Practical Needs
This church in East London also partners with seven other churches to provide overnight shelter. According to Pastor Lowe, every Wednesday night their church becomes home for up to 30 persons. They endeavor to provide hospitality and practical evangelism. “It has been challenging,” Pastor Lowe said, “but we have learned so much about the people who live in our community—especially how easy it is to become homeless without support. This showed us that we can serve and interact with our community.
The church is also developing a cafe that will provide employment training for young people and a meeting space for local businesses. Pastor Ruth Lowe reflected, “The Conference on Church Planting led by Pastor Troy energized our church in a way I have not quite seen before. We were all reminded who we were in Christ and how powerful God is despite our circumstances.”
PRAY for courage, faith, and urgency among the Wesleyan Holiness Church in the British Isles as they are Made New.