In September 2013, my family and I moved into Croydon to plant what is now Redeemer Croydon. The time since then has been the steepest learning curve I’ve ever experienced.
It has been thrilling, exhausting, joyful, draining, and ultimately, under God, fruitful. In the year leading up to our launch, the Lord assembled a committed launch team of 50 adults, exactly the number I’d been praying for, for well over a year.
He also provided a perfect venue and everything else needed for us to launch with strong momentum. And, in post-launch, God has given us steady and significant growth.
The year has been characterised by major amounts of prayer, and no small degree of desperation at times. It has also been a year of what has felt like relentless and back-breaking hard work, affecting me physically.
Launch Sunday, on 14 September, was thrilling. About 75 adults and 10 children came. One person requested to become a Christian after the meeting. Another requested more information about Christianity.
This was encouraging given that out of Croydon’s hundreds of thousands of people, the person happened to live seven doors down from us. Both are on our Christianity Explored course.
It is still early days. The Lord has given us this momentum, and of course he could take it away instantly. Another reason not to get carried away is that initial numbers were artificially high, because of Christian friends and well-wishers who came to ‘see us off’.
One thing that went well was our engagement with the media with ‘Our Welcome Video’, which went viral locally and was mentioned in the local papers.
This led to a 30-minute live interview on Croydon Radio, meaning I was able to explain the gospel several times. This led to an invitation to come and be interviewed again at Christmas.
We are trying to use social media maximally. We are filming each Sunday’s testimonies and sermons and making them widely available. We also run our weekly post-sermon Q&A slot through text-messaging, which has proved a big success. Currently, by God’s grace, we’re threatening to outgrow our own infrastructure.
Our rotas and manning of our various ministry teams are starting to creak. It looks like we will need more staff, more space, more equipment, and the money for all of that sooner than expected.
But of course ultimately — and I need to keep reminding myself of this — the power for anything to happen lies with the Lord: ‘Apart from me you can do nothing’ (John 15:5). And it lies in the gospel, which is ‘the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes’ (Romans 1:16).