I can’t believe the church would come to me

St Cuthbert’s in Haringey is partnering with LCM to reach everyone in the parish with the good news of Jesus.

One of the long-term residents seemed shocked when LCM missionary Daniel Olteanu and Church Ministry apprentice Josiah Stovell, called on him as part of their effort to visit every home in the parish, St Cuthbert’s Wood Green in north London.

“He put down his cigarette as his eyes welled up with tears,” says Daniel. “He seemed so touched that someone would come to visit him.” He told us that he never thought the church would come to his door. He said later that he always thought the church was just after his money.

This was just one example of the profound loneliness, intensified by the pandemic, which Daniel, Josiah and other church members have encountered as they work their way across the parish, getting to know residents.

St Cuthbert’s is partnering with LCM to reach everyone in the parish with the good news of Jesus. They started out by conducting a survey to get to know the needs of the local area, beginning conversations, understanding the community and letting people know that that the church is there for them.

“We’ve knocked on almost all the doors in the parish – around 2,000 homes”, says Josiah. “Historically, we’ve never done anything like this before.”

Josiah says that Daniel’s support has made getting this ministry off the ground possible. He says that he wouldn’t be able to start visiting on his own. He says that having someone stand with him as he talks to someone has been incredible, and Daniel has been a real help, training by example as he sparks up conversations with people in the street.

KNOWING THE PARISH

Long-standing member of St Cuthbert’s, Michael Slater has joined the team that Daniel is training and equipping for evangelism. He is retired and well-connected in the community. He saw this ministry as a chance for him to speak about his faith in ways that are relevant to people’s situations. He’s visited neighbours that he has known for years. One woman, for example, has never before had much contact

with church. There’s no hard sell, Michael says. The team spent time with her finding opportunities to share their faith and pray that by the grace of God, he’s at work in her life. He says: “I’ve been able to bring the word of God into situations with people, without feeling overly ham-fisted.

It’s natural to bring scripture into a situation where someone’s feeling anxious or fearful about something. We are showing that God cares for them and wants to meet them in that situation.”

GETTING BY

The survey helped a much deeper understanding of two major needs in the community. First, financially, many people are just scraping by. Parts of the parish rank in the bottom 0.2% nationally for access to housing and services, says St Cuthbert’s vicar Mark Jones-Parry. “More broadly, we score poorly in income deprivation affecting children and older people.”

The other need which was very evident was the extent of the language barrier. “Our church school has 48 languages among its 290 children, and 70 per cent don’t speak English at home”, says Mark. When Daniel and the team from St Cuthbert’s were visiting homes, parents would often ask their children to translate.

All this led the church to prayerfully consider how to respond to the need.

ENGLISH CLASSES

The church’s first step has been to set up a new ministry in St Cuthbert’s – a weekly English language class, hosted in the church building and led by Josiah.

It’s a perfect way to offer practical help and to build stronger relationships in the community. “The take-up has been significant”, explains Josiah. “We started running one class and now it’s four a week!”

“LCM missionary Daniel has been helping me in bringing in the gospel into these classes in a sensitive way. I end each session with a verse from the book of Mark. As well as sharing one very simple thought about Jesus from the passage, I also base the homework on the text.”

“It doesn’t feel unnatural to bring Jesus into the classes, because the classes are held in the church,” Josiah says. “Our hope is also that it’s not awkward for them to come to a service one day, because they’ve already been there for the language class. They’re getting used to stepping into the building.”

The classes also intentionally segue into Coffee Plus – the church’s weekly coffee shop, hosted by church members. “Quite a few students have accepted the invitation to come to Coffee Plus to practise their English, which has been great to see. Our prayer is that more and more students would come along and that connections can be built with the church.”

“We aspire to be a church family that reflects the people on our doorstep – in all their cultural, ethnic and sociological diversity. One of the challenges we face is to reach local people who are least like us,” says Mark.

“It’s been a good first step for members of the church into what can otherwise be a daunting prospect of local mission,” says Josiah.

“Our ultimate desire is to share the hope that we have in Jesus,” says Mark. “Both the survey, and the English classes have provided opportunities to do this in a natural setting.”

Share this story:

Believe In Jesus

In the run-up to Easter, churches across London have taken up LCM’s challenge to invite people to believe in Jesus.

Ashan's story

Ashan first encountered Jesus at a streetside book table. He tells his story of coming to faith.

Ann's story

Ann has lived on the same estate in London for more than 30 years. She'd given up on church, but things changed after she got a knock at the door.

Get our email updates
Receive news of the incredible things the Lord is doing in London today, straight to your inbox!

Thank you
We will be in touch soon.

Your data will be kept securely and in line with our privacy policy. If at any time you no longer want to receive these, just get in touch with our friendly supporter partnership team. For more information on how we use your data, please visit lcm.org.uk/privacy.