Growing Good in North London

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Shaping a kingdom vision

In the summer of 2022 Church on the Corner used the Growing Good course. They worked through the resources together as a homegroup in the office space above their church, which is a converted pub. COTC was facing challenging decisions as a self-financing church with a small congregation and numbers decreasing. The COTC team were looking for free resources that could give them a language around church growth and help them build a framework to support their next step as a church.

The team noted a particular grace in the timing of Growing Good which provided an opportunity to be reflective, honest and paint a picture of how they wanted to grow in a spiritual and kingdom sense. The Growing Good resources helped COTC shape a ‘parish profile’ and develop their kingdom vision which became the groundwork for the appointment of their vicar Reverend Idina in July 2023.

Rev Idina Dunmore- Associate Minister, Barnsbury Parish with responsibility for Church on the Corner

“I started my role at Church on the Corner in July 2023 and through conversations I can see how Growing Good has played a role in articulating values here, the values that really encouraged me to apply. Rather than perceiving COTC as just a church for middle class young professionals in Islington, you can see it’s a church that is conscious of deprivation and inequality in the area and open to all. Those are things I’m certainly about and these themes drew me to the role here. That outward focus, which Growing Good allows a framing for, has developed and we’ve started a warm space at Church on the Corner on Monday mornings. The warm space is something our congregation really contributes to, whether that is with volunteering their time or making a soup the day before if they are working in the week. We’ve seen people come along to church through the warm space also which was really encouraging, particularly around Christmas with the Christmas meal and carol service.

We are beginning to see more of the growth on that path that was discussed by the team who originally did the course here. I think as a next step we will do some thinking around how actually as we have more of a range of people coming in, some from lower income communities, what is the next step in supporting people? What can COTC become for them, as a space for people who do come with lots of needs? Also, those who come who may not know much about the Christian story, how can we integrate that into our church and our welcome might be the next step to consider.

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Identifying community

Anthony Codling- PCC member and Church on the Corner treasurer

“When we first came to Church on the Corner I felt instantly at home, that was back in 2007 and we’ve been coming here to church ever since. It’s always been a church where the welcome and the teaching are good and it’s a very spirit filled and inclusive space where I think people who might’ve previously felt quite disillusioned with church feel safe.

During an interregnum we needed some resources to help support conversations about growth and came across Growing Good. We thought the course looked exciting and exactly what we needed at that time really. We were small in number but it was around 80% of our congregation at the time who were doing the course together. At the time if we were really honest we knew all the great things that happened at Church on the Corner but we weren’t getting that message and invitation out. We were a very cerebral church in some aspects and we had spent a lot of time thinking but not necessarily doing and that was a weakness we were trying to address.

Growing Good presented really good opportunities for learning for us. In one of the exercises you are encouraged to think about where you see community in your local area. We identified those places locally and thought about what we could learn from them a spaces where our community gathers. The resources also helped us identify specific socio economic and wealth needs in the community. We were aware of the wealth inequality in our area but this experience was an opportunity to drill down into specific issues which can be associated. We considered poor mental health, child deprivation and single parent families when identifying needs in this area. Rather than saying we should to do this for the community and work in isolation, Growing Good gave us an opportunity to think about where the needs were and join in with the community. A number of our congregation volunteer locally and at the foodbank and as church members we can resource something like the foodbank which is meeting significant need in this area.

There has definitely been some growth in numbers in COTC since we did Growing Good. I think for me personally my faith has been helped enormously by our experience over the last few years. We were a church that was going to close down and as a team we have been able to take a step back, helped by the process of doing the course, and develop a plan where we were able to gain the support of the bishop and have a new minister with Idina. It has been quite amazing for our team and we have seen there is something bigger at play here, seeing how God has moved that’s been really cool.”

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Growing for good

Alison Lloyd- Previous Churchwarden at Church on the Corner and Worship leader

“I think there was a particular grace in the way that the timing has worked on our journey with Growing Good. We came across the resources at a time when we needed to grow in numbers but were also looking to go out and do good in our local community in Islington. I think as a church doing the course together we could be reflective, honest and paint a picture of how we wanted to grow in a spiritual and kingdom sense. That almost made the conversations about numbers and finance that we needed to have easier. We were small in numbers but we were together and there was a consensus that we wanted to grow because we wanted to do good in our community.

We love food as a church and had dinner before doing the Growing Good course as a central homegroup. I think that helped to create an nice atmosphere and encouraged people to engage with the material and in the discussion. A lot has come out of Growing Good, even at a time when we didn’t have a minister or considerable resources, we were able to look at what we did have and open our doors. We had a bonfire night at COTC and just being physically outside the church with the fire pit and chatting to people walking past was encouraging. We drew on the resource we had and people could see our presence in the community. The benches and planters were another thing that came out of conversations from Growing Good around presence.

I think doing the Growing Good course we reflected on letting go in some ways of the cosy and comfortable church we had been and recognising things in the Bible that are transformative, things we want to see for this area. A letting go in many ways to allow for growth is what has happened and I think our whole journey from 2021 to 2024 has increased our faith. Something is happening at COTC and although we don’t necessarily know what things will look like in the future, if God wants to do it , he’s going to do it."

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