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Growth Conversations: Neighbourhood Church, Beckenham

Simon Lang has been the pastor of Neighbourhood Church, Beckenham, since it began in his own home 15 years ago. He shares his experiences of how the Grow Course helped their community overcome a plateau in their journey, developing new leaders and finding new spaces to thrive.

The right thing coming along at just the right time for Neighbourhood Church is one of the things that excites pastor Simon Lang most. In this former house church’s early days, God’s miraculous and unexpected provision of a building and funding for a leader were confirmations to them that God was blessing the church. ‘He knows what we need, and his way and in his timing, he will provide,’ says Simon.

The latest provision for this Beckenham congregation has been CCX’s Grow Course, which is proving to be just what is needed as Neighbourhood Church looks to the future. ‘We started Neighbourhood 15 years ago in our house, in what is prime commuter territory,’ Simon explains. ‘We have a lot of families, with about 80-90 children and adults coming along on a Sunday morning. We’d reached our current building’s capacity as Covid happened and there’s no potential to extend or develop here.’

Why the Grow Course, now? ‘With hindsight, I think we were feeling we’d plateaued a little bit and needed some fresh input,’ explains Simon. ‘We felt it was the right tool for us because the format wasn’t too intensive. There are five half-day sessions in a year, and it wasn’t hugely academic.’ 

The church leaders started the course on Zoom in April 2022. Simon and the church leadership team were particularly drawn to the potential to use the course to develop new leaders: ‘We recognised we were at a point where we needed to grow and develop new leaders – we needed to get more people “owning” church life.’


Simon took this forward by inviting anyone who wanted to explore leadership to get involved in their own Monday evening Grow sessions. He explains: ‘We would take the content from the most recent Wednesday Grow session, pick what we felt was most relevant to us, and interact with the material together. Doing it like this meant we could involve people who were unable to make the Wednesday sessions due to work commitments. And we could tailor it to our specific need.’

Informed by the course’s input, the Monday group worked on defining the church’s vision, values and strategy, which they honed to three invitations: to connect – with Jesus and others; to grow in faith; and get involved in the work of Jesus. Says Simon: ‘This was all stuff that already existed in the church, which was really important because we wanted our vision and values to be, as someone said, lived not laminated!’ The difference was having a clear definition which, as assistant pastor Dan comments, is very helpful in planning strategy: ‘It’s given us clarity of thought, so if something doesn’t fit into our vision and values, we don’t do it. I don’t know if we’d have thought through issues in the same way we’ve been able to, because of the Grow Course. Plus we get access to external expertise, whether it’s communication experts or business leaders, which, as a small church, we’d struggle to get hold of ordinarily.’

This process has contributed to the leadership team gaining a clearer perspective on church life, Dan feels. ‘I think it’s vital that we take time to step back from the day to day running of the church to get the big picture stuff.’ Simon agrees: ‘It’s important for the leadership team to work on the life of the church rather than always in the life of the church. It’s so easy to be driven by whatever needs to be done. Doing this with a wider group of people has been brilliant and it’s gently developing leaders.’

A key component of the Grow Course is enabling churches to identify barriers to growth; for Neighbourhood Church, those barriers were their organisational structure and limited space. The leaders are tackling these with leadership development and by actively seeking a new, larger premises. ‘We’re trusting God, moving forward, for the right space for us,’ says Simon. ‘He’s always provided before, at the right time, usually without us asking!’

Whilst numeric growth is encouraging, and Dan has seen the youth group double to 21 in 15 months, growing in breadth and depth is also part of the Grow Course’s DNA. ‘Spiritual depth is about making disciples,’ says Simon. ‘It’s a lifetime process; we want people to have deep roots. Now we have our three focal points – our three invitations – and they are a measure of spiritual growth to help us see how people are growing over time.’

Simon has found another tool very helpful in developing vision and growing leaders: the leadership map. This evolves from his one-to-one sessions with a Grow Course coach, where they discuss an issue Simon has brought, updating the map at each session as a visual depiction of the journey the church is on. He says: ‘The map has provided a clarity of thought, helps me see our goals, and is a great way to capture the momentum of the journey we are on.’ He enthuses, ‘The quality of the resources is first-class and the content has been brilliant. We’ve found the course really helpful. I’d encourage other churches to embrace the content and be prepared to be challenged. We’ve certainly found that it’s sharpened our thinking.’

Want to explore how the Grow Course could help your church? We’d love to hear from you, with no obligation to sign up. We work with churches from many Christian denominations.

Please get in touch with CCX by emailing Grow Team member Katie Lysak.

Interview by Gill Troup