Celebrating 25 years in the senior ministry of KT, Colin Dye describes the new vision for the new century.
In these articles I have been sharing many of the major milestones we have passed as a church over the last 25 years. We have seen how God has been with Kensington Temple from its origins under the ministry of Elim’s founder, George Jeffreys, until the present day. God has truly been faithful. We have never shrunk back from the challenge to break the mould denominationally, culturally, racially and spiritually. We have been at the forefront of church life and growth in London for many decades and are still moving forward, innovating, helping set the pace and highlight future direction for the body of Christ in London.
What is the vision behind Kensington Temple/ London City Church (KT/LCC)? What inspires us and drives us as a church? Over the years we have been exposed to many influences which are now part of our DNA. Pioneer evangelism, signs and wonders, world mission, church planting, and prophetic and apostolic ministry to the nations have all been a consistent part of our history and are an established part of our destiny as a church. However, as we look to the future, several major thrusts of our life and ministry come into focus.
A Cell Church
The first of these is cell church. KT/LCC is not structured along traditional lines. It is a cell-based church. Sunday services are great opportunities for the church to come together for corporate worship, celebration and Bible teaching. But the basic, day-today ministry of the church happens through the cells. Evangelism, consolidation of new believers, pastoral care, mission and social action are all centred in the cell groups.
The beauty of the cell model is that every person in the church has the opportunity to belong to an active cell group near where they live or work. This gives people the chance to develop strong relationships, find encouragement and prayer support and grow as Christians.
The traditional model of mere Sunday attendance leaves Christians alone and isolated during the week. But when cells groups are active during the week outside the church building, suddenly church becomes a whole life calling and our faith becomes relevant to the realities of daily life.
The cell model puts into action Jesus’ call to go, show and tell people about the kingdom of God. Every Christian becomes an active part of the body of Christ. The church leadership are not the only ministers, but we are all ministers of Christ called, trained and released to work for him.
A Discipleship Church
Closely linked to the cell church structure is the goal of making, maturing and mobilising disciples. Many large churches work with an attractional model. They put on big programmes hoping to draw many believers into their church. They grow their churches through music, entertainment, popular preaching topics and social events. As good as some of these things are, they are no substitute for true discipleship.
KT/LCC responded to the prophetic word given in the early Nineties by an Anglican minister from Singapore. Canon James Wong called us to become, “the most effective disciple-making centre in London.” We have tried to obey that call. The cell church model makes it possible for every Christian both to be a disciple and a disciplemaker. This is the call to fruitfulness that is at the heart of discipleship in the New Testament. We believe in having fun, being full of joy, enjoying God and each other, but at the heart of church life, is cross-carrying, other-focussed, Christ-centred, Spirit-filled discipleship.
We feel it important to set an example for other churches to follow. God is calling the body of Christ back to the radical Christian lifestyle of the New Testament. It is not enough to fill church buildings with superficial adherents to the Christian faith.
We must prepare and release radical disciples of Christ into every area of society to call our nation back to God.
Word and Spirit
Another feature of our vision is the dual emphasis on the Word and the Spirit. This needs some explanation because most would assume that every church upholds both the Word of God and the activity of the Spirit. However, on a closer examination, few churches seem to get the balance right. Sadly, most pursue the Spirit while neglecting the Word, or major on the Word and are weak in the things of the Spirit.
We approach this subject from a prophetic perspective. KT/LCC was birthed in Pentecostal revival and is a part of the Elim Pentecostal Churches of Great Britain. We also embraced the Charismatic Renewal and we owe much of our current freshness in the things of the Spirit to it. We believe that this movement is from God and has brought tremendous blessing to the world. It numbers around 600 million believers and comprises one of the fastest growing sustained religious movements in history.
However, we see some inherent weaknesses in the Charismatic movement and in much global Pentecostalism today. This weakness has to do with its superficial treatment of Scripture. Spiritual experience is often the basis of charismatic faith and belief and sometimes the sensational is pursued to the exclusion of the mundane, personal blessing to the exclusion of self-sacrifice.
An example of this is the so-called “health and wealth gospel”. Here an attractive message of happiness over holiness, demandingness over surrender is presented as the “Full Gospel”. This has led at times to the absence of a theology of suffering and a view of faith as a means of getting things from God, rather than honouring God in all circumstances.
We have seen examples of Charismatic leaders pursuing the novel and the sensational despite the lack of scriptural support for their teaching. This has led in places to a neglect of life-changing gospel truths and the basic doctrines in the faith. The result is weak churches perhaps with many thousands in attendance, but ignorant of the historic, biblical, evangelical faith which is the only hope of witness to a world in darkness.
That is why we try to emphasise both the Word and the Spirit. We believe in the Baptism of the Holy Spirit as a promise to every believer. We believe, pursue and seek to practice the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We endeavour to be continually filled with the Sprit, experiencing God in real ways. But we also take Scripture seriously, developing in-depth biblical understanding. We teach our preachers to base their messages on sound biblical exegesis and to master the whole counsel of God as revealed in Scripture. We believe that the church of the End Times will be a church which is mighty in word and deed. A church that is soaked both in Scripture and the experience of the Spirit. A church that is equally powerful in signs and wonders as well as doctrinal truth.
A Reforming Church
Perhaps the best way of summing up KT/LCC as a church is to see it as a church moving towards reformation. The Reformation of the 16th Century produced such great leaders as Martin Luther, John Calvin and John Knox. These men of God called the church of their generation back to the Bible. The gospel truth of Justification by Faith alone had been eclipsed by the teachings of a near apostate church which placed an emphasis on sacramental observance. Salvation was not seen purely as a free gift, but based on religious performance and good works.
We uphold the grace teaching of the Reformation and of the Bible. We warn against any movement or emphasis that denies the truths of the Reformation as if Martin Luther got it wrong. We cannot allow the gospel to be eclipsed again.
But reformation is an on-going process. It is about continually refining our understanding of ways of doing and being church. We are sensitive to the current moves of the Spirit leading God’s people away from sectarianism and denominationalism which place allegiance to human organisations above the Kingdom of God. We thank God for the different streams and traditions which make up the wider church in the nation and across the world. But the Church that Jesus is building is one – made up of believers everywhere who hold to the only Head. Despite all the many legitimate diverse expressions of the body of Christ in the world, there is ultimately only one, true Church, and that is the Church of which Jesus Christ is the Head. Our allegiance is to him and to him alone.
True reformation does not end with the church, but spills out into society. This means engaging our contemporary culture with a view to changing our society. Jesus is coming back for a glorious church made ready for him. We will have successfully fulfilled our mandate in the world, not only to preach the gospel to all nations, but also to have discipled the nations according to the command of Jesus recorded in Matthew’s Gospel chapter 28. We are called to reform every area of society, bringing it all as closely as possible into conformity with the will of God.
The church is called to express the whole counsel of God and he is raising up just such a church in our generation. KT/LCC is being carried by the contemporary winds of the Spirit and current flows of God’s grace towards that destination.