Read / Feature

The story of Multiply: Estates Mission

A summary of much that took place on 28 March 2023 at the first ever Multiply: Estates Mission conference.

‘Please, be encouraged today, be of good cheer. God is moving powerfully on our estates.’ 

This was the opening invitation of Lynne Cullens, Bishop of Barking and Chair of the National Estate Churches Network, to over 120 delegates gathered at St Barnabas Church, North Finchley, London, for the inaugural Multiply: Estates Mission conference. 

When Helen Shannon – CCX lead for Estates Development and co-host of the conference alongside CCX colleague Ash Chafe – called on delegates to take their seats, the atmosphere resonated with Bishop Lynne’s words, of an encouraging space to engage with those seated alongside and hear what God was stirring in the places each was called to serve. 

Having been led into a posture of worship and reflection by Joshua Kane and the band of Mill Hill East Church, Helen Shannon introduced Sarah Small, the first of the day’s contributors. 

Sarah, Head of the Eden Network of the Message Trust, drew on Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan to unpack her thoughts and reflections on the importance of integrity and community to estates mission. Speaker, Sarah Small, in front of a podium

‘Why do estates mission?’ asked Sarah. ‘Because you get to work alongside some of the most glorious people, to experience some of the biggest challenges – your discipleship journey will be impacted like never before.

‘We are not meant to be the Samaritan. I’m sure we’d all like to be. In reality we are the fella lying broken and bruised in the road, battered by life. We are all in need of a saviour, we’re all in need of Jesus. We can only do this work if we look to him, as the source and the saviour, as the one who journeys with us through this life.’

There followed the first of the day’s stories, a snapshot of the life of Samantha Kyriacou, from her early life experiences of a fulfilling-yet-challenging childhood, of substance use and eventual addiction, culminating in a move to the Strawberry Vale estate in East Finchley. It was here that she had a chance encounter with the church@five community, and a transformative experience in prayer. Interviewed by Andrew Kwapong, curate at St Mary & Christ Church, Hendon, North London, Samantha shared her experience of becoming a leader at church@five, of the ‘honour’ it is to pray for the church community, and to share her experience of Jesus with those God has placed around her. 

Reminded afresh of the transformative impact of Jesus and the impact of estates churches like church@five, the day moved to its first panel discussions, an opportunity for delegates to present their practical questions to the experienced contributors Helen and Ash Chafe had invited to the conference. Panel of speakers sitting next to each other on stage

The scope of questioning was broad and provocative, touching on topics including the challenge of gentrification and its displacement of estate communities, maintaining spiritual practices (‘Find your turn up song, the one you have to dance to… Nothing tests your freedom like the freedom to dance. If you’re not dancing when there’s the opportunity to dance, you need to talk to Jesus.’ Denis Adide, vicar at St Stephen’s Church, Shepherd’s Bush) and encouraging leadership in others (‘Teach people how to speak to people. Then do nothing but praise them. The key is giving people repeat opportunities.’ Joshua Kane, Pastor of Mill Hill East Church). 

As the delegates broke for coffee and a chance to meet and network with contributors, that invitation of Bishop Lynne seemed to have been firmly taken up. Cris Rogers, in front of a marketing banner at a convention

The morning’s second session began with a talk from Cris Rogers, church planter and director of Making Disciples giving an impassioned a theological reflection toward a positive urban estate theology. 

‘An estate is a place of God’s activity,’ said Cris. ‘God’s activity is not determined by us or our presence but is sometimes brought into focus, sometimes it’s seen and sometimes he uses us. We are part of his active presence, but not the end of it. This theology helps us realise that King Jesus determines the value of a place, not house prices.’ 

We would encourage you to read Cris’ talk in full and share it widely with those who you feel might, in turn, be encouraged by it. 

Having been stirred in theological reflection, delegates heard further practical insights from the story of the Roundshaw Estate in South London, told by local residents and pioneer minister David Atkinson. 

‘We had to find a balance of wanting to listen and go slow, but still engage – to seek to cultivate what God is already doing. I think there are moments where you need to lean in and just try things out,’ said David. ‘Just be like a gardener, constantly tending, constantly seeing what’s growing, what needs pruning. 

‘What’s been amazing for me is to see diversity in all its forms, of people coming together from all sorts of different backgrounds and connecting, being challenged and shaped by one another and growing in generosity in shared lives.’ 

This was a sentiment echoed in the conference’s second panel session, with Sara Barron, NECN Executive Director, further emphasising the importance of listening. 

‘Listening is the place to begin. When I first moved to the estate I thought I was going to make people’s lives better because I already knew the answer – but I quickly learnt that wasn’t the case,’ said Sara. ‘When God chastises you, he does so with love. He’s the one who changes people’s hearts, you just need to love people.’

Man drawing the cross on another Man's forehead with his thumb Perhaps the most significant moment of Multiply: Estates Mission came at the close of the conference programme. During a final moment of worship, Helen Shannon called upon the local team of church@five to set up stations of prayer, each with a vial of anointing oil. Delegates were invited to come forward for commissioning or recommissioning into the aspect of estate ministry they felt God had called them to. 

It was a simple, powerful symbol, hinting at the wider activity God is leading on estates across the nation; a moment in which God’s blessing was visible in the lives of those assembled and poured out afresh in the anointing oil. 

‘I think what I saw Jesus do was allow people to be joyful in what they were doing,’ said Helen Shannon, when asked to reflect on the day’s events. ‘A permission to love where they’re at and love the people that they’re serving despite the difficulties in it.’ 

If you would like to find out more about the support CCX can offer for estates mission, including Become – an accessible theology and leadership course with a creative, interactive approach to teaching – Helen and Ash would love to hear from you. Email them at