Introducing Greg Smith Urban Mission & Community Research Consultant

Greg Smith

This week we introduce Greg Smith, who lived and worked for churches in the London Borough of Newham for 27 years.

Greg has recently retired but has generously listed links to his many works and writings on urban mission and 21st century evangelism.

For anyone who would like to reflect more deeply on where God is at work on the estates or how understanding Christian doctrine can be relevant to the lives of working class people in a multi-cultural society, these writings are an excellent resource. You can explore more by clicking here.

Greg’s works are also very useful for anyone training for any form of church ministry who feels especially called to work on the estates or an inner-city context.

For example, a very readable paper entitled ‘Biblical Bases of Socio-Political Action, explains how Christian involvement in social and political issues are linked to key beliefs about God, Creation, the Fall, God’s justice in the Old Testament, the Kingdom of God, Jesus, Salvation and Christian living. Greg writes from an evangelical perspective and as a practitioner who has lived and worked among Christians from different churches and people from other faiths and with no faith.

” …it is out of the experience of mission,
and the awareness that such evils as poverty, racism, unemployment and bad housing
are barriers to the Gospel…”

Greg Smith

We hope that you enjoy exploring the fruits of Greg’s theological research and reflection among the treasure of God’s Kingdom, the people of the urban estates. Much of what  he has written is still highly relevant to today, particularly in the light of increasing poverty during the pandemic and to bring an end to racism highlighted by the Black Lives Matter movement.

Faith Pictures – a fresh way to talk about things that matter

Faith Pictures

If you are looking for a gentle, humorous and light-hearted course to run with a small church group we think you will like Faith Pictures.

This 6 week has been designed by the Church Army. You can find out more about it on https://www.churcharmy.org/Groups/266913/Church_Army/ms/Faith_Pictures/Faith_Pictures.aspx

The idea of the course is to help Christians talk to our friends, neighbours and anyone we know about what we believe. There are a couple of short introductory videos on the website which explain a bit about the course.

Resources are free to download though you will need to sign up to access the next 5 sessions.

Whilst it is not possible to meet as groups in church at the moment or in each others’ homes, it would be possible to share this course on the internet if you can access Zoom or a similar on-line platform for sharing.

Residential Conferences return for Leading your Church into Growth

Leading Your Church Into Growth

Government guidelines and restrictions remain firmly in place whilst COVID-19 is with us for our safety.

As restrictions ease the organisers of Leading your Church onto Growth look forward to being able to offer residential conferences again in October and November. Conferences will be hosted by the Christian Conference Trust (CCT) who will ensure that the conferences will adhere to the current safety guidelines.

If you are interested in finding more please visit https://www.leadingyourchurchintogrowth.org.uk/

More about Leading your Church into Growth

The purpose of LYCiG is encourage and equip local churches to grow spiritually and in numbers. People on the team come from all kinds of churches from urban to rural, high, low, evangelical, Catholic all with a desire to lead more people to Jesus.

Robin Gamble leads the team and gives a very practical, friendly and warm welcome to conferences. You can find out more about the organisation here

Follow LYCiG on Facebook to access free up-to-date resources and to meet members of the team.

Introducing Laurie Green Founder of NECN

Founder of NECN

A very handy resource for any estate church leader or practitioner is Laurie Lee’s blog on how to do theology. The website is lauriegreen.org.

This way of reflecting theologically on situations starts not with books but with actual experience. It is called the Pastoral Cycle. Below is his diagram outlining the process.

Theological Reflection

Laurie gives a very clear introduction into what this process means in his short video on https://www.lauriegreen.org/theology-1/contextual%20theology.html

He has written a book on this called ‘Lets Do Theology’. Theology is there for all of us to do, not just for academics. God is calling poor people especially to have a go at doing theology because we may not be rich but we have a rich amount of experience to reflect upon and we still have our faith, just like Jesus did when he became incarnate and lived for 30 years before he started preaching.

As you will be well aware coming from an estate does not preclude anyone from being academic.  For those of you who wish to go deeper Laurie provides links to plenty of additional papers to contextual theology on https://www.lauriegreen.org/theology-1/index.html

He also provides links to his summaries of theology books on areas of doctrine, mission, the Bible, the church and theological reflection, especially in the context of ministry on the estates https://www.lauriegreen.org/books/laurie%27s%20library.html 

There are some very useful books on this list but most importantly of all, all of us from estates can all do theology, starting with an open heart and our experience.

‘This estate we’re in’ by Al Barrett

This Estate We're In

From time to time it is good to stimulate  ideas and our own theological reflections on living and working as communities on estates and urban areas. This is especially important at the moment when face-to-face meetings are limited due to COVID-19.

In this section of our blog we hope to signpost you to other excellent blogs by estate churches leaders and practitioners.

Our first estate church leader we’d like to introduce you to is Al Barrett, an Anglican priest and dad who has been living in Hodge Hill on the edge of East Birmingham since 2010.

Al’s blog, ‘This estate we’re in’ is a theological reflection of day-to-day life on an urban outer estate in the West midlands.

It is beautifully crafted and contains  honest thoughts and feelings about our common experience, ideas for praying for the community, even if you are still unable to go out, prayers, poems, artwork from estates and extensive recommended reading where appropriate. Al also helpfully lists other really good blogs he follows which you might find useful for further ideas and future conversations.

Some of the liturgy to pray with have been composed with the aid of Ruth Harley, who is currently training for ordained ministry at the Queen’s Foundation in Birmingham, with a call to living on estates.

As a taster, have a look at Al’s recent post, Living through liminal times

This post is about living through the wilderness experience of the pandemic, the pain involved and a call to explore new possibilities in these uncertain times. We’re giving away no more spoilers on here…you will just have to check out his blog for yourself!

Virus as Portal

Jesus Shaped People and COVID-19

Jesus Shaped People logo

Jesus Shaped People is a programme to develop the discipleship of small, estate churches and communities from social housing and inner estates.

Sample resources can be downloaded from https://www.jesusshapedpeople.net/ 

Jesus Shaped People have been producing resources for churches now living with the fall-out from COVID-19. A link a video clip explaining more can be found here.

New resources include two short video clips on the themes of ‘Loss’ and ‘Discovery’. These can be downloaded and shared remotely with your church community or a church group that meets for prayer and Bible study. Brendan asks questions to reflect on and pauses after each question so that the video can be paused to allow for group discussion. If you would like to view these videos visit https://www.jesusshapedpeople.net/node/216

Keep up to date with Jesus Shaped People via their Facebook page

Free Webinar for Churches Responding to Homelessness

This is a  call to alms – Zoominar with the Rt Rev Bishop Graham Tomlin, Bishop of Kensington.

Free webinar – Wednesday 3rd June, 3 or 6 pm

For Churches wanting to engage with the homeless in response to COVID-19

To register for this event please visit:

https://www.hopeintoaction.org.uk/a-call-to-alms-zoominar

Why do churches need to be concerned?

Thousands of ‘rough-sleepers’ have been moved off the streets into hotels. But where will they go next? Night-shelters may not be deemed safe to re-open. Additionally unemployment is up by over 1 million. Domestic violence up.

Homelessness charity

Ministry and Mission through You Tube and Zoom

Below are some of the ways in which leaders on the estates have been reaching out to their congregations during the COVID-19 lockdown.

I’m putting a service online as a Youtube playlist, with my videos interspersed with songs and hymns that are already on there, avoiding copyright issues or anyone having to listen to my singing. I’m finding that the music and the sermon are the two things that people are appreciating. If anyone can’t video, then putting together a Youtube playlist of music may be very much appreciated by congregations.

Jeremy Fagan


Much of ministry has now gone online – with Zoom being flavour of the month for most of us.  Here in Harlow that means that we are working with other churches a bit more closely – with talk of sharing worship resources through recorded songs and the like.
Pastoral care involves telephone calls, emails or text messages – whatever works for most effectively keeping in touch.  And we are drowning in advice, support and resources about effectively going online.
As a plus – perhaps at the end of this some of us may choose not to give up on our online presence.  If we have built up a following, perhaps we will continue to live-stream, only this time involving a congregation as well as the solitary service leader in a room.
Virtual meetings, on a more practical note – may be a good way forward for NECN.  We could gather people from different parts of the country without the need for any of us to leave our communities.  For busy Estate Ministers there is a time for gathering, and being encouraged, but there is also a time for staying put – but maybe still having an hour to fellowship with other Estate Ministers.  What about a Zoom fellowship for folk from different parts of the country but similar contexts?

from Darren McIndoe in Harlow

If you have any more ideas of what is working with your church communities please do get in touch, We would love to hear from you.

A Message from Canon Andy Delmege

A pastoral message from Canon Andy Delmege, Vicar of St Bede’s Brandwood and Executive Director, National Estate Churches Network.

Andy reflects upon a story from the Book of Daniel and introduces an oft-overlooked ancient prayer #infinitelyloved   #weprayforyou   #SongOfTheThree

Andy can be followed on Twitter @pilgrimpace and @NECNestates

Estates Prayer

Estates Prayer

The Bishop of Burnley, the Right Reverend Philip North has written a prayer for the estates. On Saturday 22nd February people will be saying this prayer for the estates across the country. This will be the first anniversary of the Church of England Synod motion to have a loving Christian community on every urban estate in the nation.

Can we encourage you to join us. You might want to do a prayer walk for your neighbourhood or your street.

You can find out more by clicking on this You Tube link to the Neighbourhood Prayer Network.