19th January 2017
In a few weeks’ time, we begin an important and exciting new series at King’s called INVITED, where we will be exploring some of the challenges and opportunities that come when trying to build a diverse church.
My preparation for this series has caused me to reflect again on what I have learnt about diversity in the 21 years I have been leading King’s. When I first came here, I thought we were already a very mixed congregation. Looking around the room then, some 10-15% were from the black community, predominantly first and second generation Caribbean, and the majority of the rest were white British. Fast forward two decades, and it is a very different picture. A recent church survey, conducted at King’s last year, showed that we are 60% black and 40% ‘other’. Roughly a third of that 60% are black British, another third from different African nations (mainly Nigeria), whilst the other third are from a Caribbean heritage. And if you came to our 11.30am service on the Catford site, our largest and fastest growing, it would be at least 90% black.
I love being part of a church like ours! I love meeting people from different cultures, whose background, life experience and outlook may be very unlike my own. But there are times when it can be a challenge – it is easy to misread and misunderstand one another and I know that I have made many mistakes over the years.
In the last two decades I have been on a steep learning curve. I realised fairly early on in this journey that I tend to see things through a white British lens. The moment a young black woman commented to me that she had never been in a ‘white majority church’ before (but I thought we were so diverse!) was a significant moment. I suddenly realised that from her point of view that is exactly what we were – and that in coming to us she was stepping out of her comfort zone. I wonder what it is like for people joining King’s now?
I am excited about this series. I know that I still have much to learn about diversity and I believe INVITED presents a great opportunity for us to continue to learn together, gain greater understanding of one another, and build closer community. To make the most of the series, we are encouraging everyone to do four things:
BE AT CHURCH EACH WEEK – it’s only seven weeks, but if you miss a week you can listen online or via the free King’s app.
BE PART OF A GROUP – a great place to make friends and discuss the topics. Sign up online or go to the Welcome Desk on Sunday – places are filling up fast!
EAT TOGETHER AND SHARE YOUR STORY – whether it’s a meal or just a coffee, we encourage you to meet up with others from different backgrounds to ask questions and listen to each other’s stories.
READ THE DAILY DEVOTIONALS – Join with others from across King’s to read through the book of Acts together. The INVITED booklet will be available to buy from this Sunday.
From this Sunday, we will also be selling Owen Hylton’s excellent book, Crossing the Divide. Owen was a pastor at King’s and now leads Beacon Church in Brixton. He will be speaking one Sunday during the series, and we are encouraging people to read his book to explore this subject in more depth.
INVITED starts on Sunday 5th February, and in the meantime, we continue with the excellent Devoted series. I hope you are enjoying it as much as I am, and I look forward to seeing you this Sunday.
Posted by Steve Tibbert
Steve Tibbert leads King’s Church London, with sites in Catford, Downham and Lee. Over the past fifteen years the church has seen continued growth, both in size and diversity. Steve is also involved in Newfrontiers and regularly coaches other lead elders. His book, Good to Grow, was published in July 2011. He is married to Deb, and they have three sons.