St Mary's London: How do they do it?

John Peters Took in a service at St Mary’s in London’s west end this week. They’re gearing up for a launch of their Life Course, an Alpha Course equivalent.

The guy leading the service gets up and says, “Hey there must be hundreds of you out there who have come to know Christ through the course.” I thought he was joking: he wasn’t.

Up gets Julia, that’s “Yulia” she’s Finnish and in her late twenties. Six months ago she signed up for the Life Course with three other friends from work. None of them Christians. Julia walked into banquet with 2-300 people and loved it, so she signed up for the course. As a result, Julia and two of her friends came to faith.

Wander around St Mary’s and you will meet hundreds of people who can you how that came to Christ through the life and witness of the church. They’re planning to launch two Life Courses simultaneously with around 300 in each one—mostly under 40’s.

Evangelism is a way of life at St Mary’s and it gets better.

St Mary’s is planting churches that reproduce this same heart for evangelism—in Auckland, New Zealand; Jacksonville, USA; Exeter, England; a Spanish church in London and Maceio, Brazil. And they’ve only just begun. Team member commit to go out from St Mary’s for 3-12 months to help get the new churches started. Most of them are self-funded. Most eventually return. Some stay permanently.

St Mary’s has set up its own theological and ministry training school which has developed into the launch of the Westminster Theological Centre headed up by St Mary’s resident theologian, Crispin Fletcher-Louis.

Right now they have 41 students in training and six of them are Church of England ordination candidates.

So while the rest of us sit around and moan about the “state of the church in the west” St Mary’s is getting on with the job. They have this naive belief in the Scriptures and the power of the Holy Spirit to transform lives. They love their church. Obviously they have not been attending the right seminars and reading the right authors. Someone should go down there and tell them it can’t be done.

You can’t explain St Mary’s without talking about its leader, John Peters. Have a listen to his messages on the Power of the Spirit and Open to the Spirit and see if you can work out how he does it and what sets St Mary’s apart as a church planting movement.