Many church plants in urban areas focus on serving a community with people from all over the world. David Williams is the pastor at Partnership church, Bearwood Chapel, Smethwick. He also hosts the CPI West Midlands Urban Hub. Jose Galindez leads a church plant called Nueva Vida, supported by Bearwood Chapel and Raglan Road Christian Church.
What is Smethwick like?
Dave: Smethwick is in one of the largest urban populations in the UK. The population is ethnically diverse, with a lot of transition. People move temporarily into hotels and hostels in the area, including people recently out of prison, waiting immigration decisions or who were previously homeless.
Jose: At our Christmas Day meal, several who came are homeless and many were lonely. Some asylum seekers come through the area and they need help making sense of the system and getting linked to the right people for legal advice and representation.
What is Nueva Vida?
Jose: Nueva Vida, which means ‘new life’, is a congregation for Spanish speakers in the West Midlands. It began in February 2015. We never thought we would end up involved in church planting. Nueva Vida just happened.
Dave: God just started sending South Americans our way! We were praying and thinking about how to move things forward and God linked us up with Jose. Jose did not know what would happen when he simply opened his home to study the Bible with some people he met.
What are the other ways you are serving your community?
Dave: We have a coffee shop, English classes, children’s and youth work etc., but at the heart of everything we do we are building relationships and seeking opportunities to share the good news.
What are your hopes for the future?
Dave: My prayer for Bearwood Chapel and Nueva Vida is that they will grow into genuinely diverse congregations that reflect the communities we serve. I’d also love to see 2-3 new churches planted or struggling churches re-vitalised in this area. We’ve started a partnership with Union School of Theology to help train workers for this harvest field. You can find out more at faithroots.net.
Jose: We want to see spiritual growth. We recently shared communion together as a congregation for the first time, a real sign of growth. We had a lot of questions about who could and who shouldn’t take communion, which helped people to think about where they were spiritually.
How does the CPI hub help you?
Dave: The West Midlands Urban Hub is in its early days but the key thing for us has been the encouragement of knowing we are not on our own but others share this concern for reaching urban Britain and especially the urban West Midlands with the Gospel. We are getting to know each other in the group and this is good for prayer support, sharing challenges and encouraging each other.
What advice do you have for those who may be feeling the Lord is nudging them to plant a church?
Dave: First, talk with your church elders. As we seek to hear God, body discernment is important and a church planter should be sent. They can also help you to see what your gifts are and where they are best suited. There are different types of plant so don’t assume you must copy someone else, find the approach that suits the needs of where you are planting and your own gifts/style. Be ready to be surprised. There is often a point where intentionality and the unexpected meet.
Jose: Vital to the journey has been prayer and the advice and help from Bearwood Chapel elders, and Pastor Kevin Sadler from Raglan Road Christian Church. My relationship with my wife and her insight is crucial.