“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” (Isaiah 52:7).
This verse is very close to the hearts of the staff and trustees at Church Growth Trust. They love to see God’s grace in action as whole communities come alive through church revitalisation. In this edition, the stories of Crossway Church in Northfield, Birmingham and Bury Street Community Church in Edmonton, North London are being told.
Crossway Church sits at the heart of a 1930s housing estate. Pastor John James takes up the story.
“Crossway was originally called Helier Chapel. A group of forward-thinking Brethren approached the council for a plot of land to plant a church. 4000 homes were built near the Longbridge car factory, which was one of the main employers at the time. The church flourished, with a huge Sunday school, strong youth work and a large congregation. It started a slow decline in the 1970s as people moved away and the culture around the city changed. My relationship with it began when I met my wife Sarah who had grown up in the church.”
By 2012, the Midlands Evangelisation Trust which had held the Helier Chapel in trust, was winding down and that’s when Giles Arnold of Church Growth Trust got involved. “We felt very strongly that it was right to work with Giles. We love Birmingham – there’s a great work to be done and I was delighted to find that Giles had a godly concern for the spiritual health of local churches, not just their fabric.”
Crossway is very aware of the history on which it’s built. “We had a young lad come into the church one Sunday. He had a tough background, heavily involved in drug dealing and both his older brothers were in prison. His granddad had been a church member and some of our older congregation remembered him from years back. His mum was concerned that her third son was on the slippery slope and found herself blurting out, “You’re going to have to account for all this to God on the Day of Judgement.” She had no relationship with the church, but this deep-down Biblical knowledge was a legacy from her father. The boy was scared, started reading Matthew’s gospel and became a Christian. He asked to be baptised, became a member of the church and started to grow in his faith. We still have a connection with him now. That sums church revitalisation up for us – the original seeds were sown years ago, but now they’re still bearing fruit.”
To read more of this article click on our Foundations magazine below and you can continue on page 18