11th February 2021
‘After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no-one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the lamb.’ Rev 7:9
King’s Church London has always been a diverse community – in age, class, and in cultural and racial heritage. This reflects our local community, and if you live in this part of south east London you will see the same diversity just about everywhere you go. Heaven will be like this, made up of ‘every nation, tribe, people and language’. If you look at our mission field and consider our eternal destination, then the local church should connect the present to the future.
Building a truly diverse church, one in which every person feels they belong, is not without challenge. In June last year I outlined our response to the awful murder of George Floyd, calling us to continue our journey of becoming an ‘Ephesians 2’ church (‘For he himself is our peace, who has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility…’ ). These themes of missional relevance and heavenly perspective, rooted in biblical revelation and local church experience, are not new to us. Most recently, our 2017 INVITED series encouraged us to take intentional steps towards being a diverse church and to keep building relationships with those who are different to us. But the shocking events of last June served to highlight a truth which we already knew – that racial prejudice and its resulting injustice continues to be seen in our society, and that all too often, it remains unrecognised and unchallenged by those with the power to change things. The events of last June challenged us as a leadership to consider what more we need to do as King’s continues to address the important issues of race and justice. Here is a brief summary of some the recent steps we have taken so far:
• We addressed the subject directly on two occasions in our autumn preaching programme. I highly recommend listening again to the messages brought by our Teaching Pastor, Andrew Wilson, and by our friend Tope Koleoso, pastor of Jubilee Church, Enfield.
• We have profiled Ben Lindsay’s book, We Need to Talk About Race, and encouraged people to read it. This is an insightful and challenging book about the black experience in white majority churches. Last term, many of our staff took part in a weekly group to read and discuss the book together.
• We appointed Kwaku Osafo and Roberta Walker as new trustees at King’s.
• All our staff are attending unconscious bias training.
• We have held three separate consultation groups with members of King’s.
• Our elders have discussed the issues raised at length, including reflecting on such things as worship style, language, representation at all leadership levels, to name a few. These discussions are ongoing.
• We are planning another longer teaching series focussing on the issue of diversity and challenging us again to be an Ephesians 2 church.
• I would also value your prayers as I, together with some key staff members from King’s, advise, coach and talk with other UK churches as they grapple with this important area of ministry.
We are taking steps, but we know we have a long way to go. As we continue on this journey, I encourage us all to keep playing our part in building an Ephesians 2 church.
Please note there will be no blog next week as I will be taking a week's holiday.
Posted by Steve Tibbert
Steve Tibbert leads King’s Church London, with sites in Catford, Downham, Lee and Beckenham. The church has seen continued growth since the mid-1990s, both in terms of size and diversity.
As well as leading King’s, Steve hosts and leads Newfrontiers, a fellowship of apostolic leaders with hundreds of churches around the world.
Steve is married to Deb. They have three grown up sons and one grandson.