We are a Word & Spirit church that loves the Bible. The Bible, unlike any other collection of books, is living and active. It is capital T-unchanging, wonderful Truth. It is a love letter from God. It is our guide for life. It is what God has given us to know him. Therefore, our desire is to help people not just know the Bible but know the God of the Bible through studying the Scriptures together. We do that in a number of different ways.
A. Sundays. Our main practice is to preach through books of the Bible. For example, we recently preached Ephesians in 39 sermons; before that we worked through Daniel in 12 sermons. Right now, we’re working through John’s first-century biography about Jesus. We like to dig deep into the text but speak in an easy-to-understand way (so technical exegetical issues are not confusing for people).
A huge amount of prayer, listening to God, studying of the passage, and reading multiple commentaries goes into each message. Here’s a guide we give to people we’re training to preach. We break up this exegetical practice for thematic messages throughout the year, addressing key Christian issues our culture is challenging and/or that need highlighting, such as rest (in an anti-rest-driven, demanding capital city). Including Easter, Christmas, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Pentecost Sunday and Trinity Sunday (all of which we like to do special services for), it’s probably about a 70:30 split.
We also team-preach, so we can benefit from the diversity of a range of voices, from different backgrounds, with different styles of sharing.
B. Life Groups. Typically 8-14 people meeting in homes, online and/or in person across London. We sensed God calling us to pastor as farmers. Rather than trying and failing to prioritise many things all at the same time with these groups, we’ve been led to focus on one main objective per term, or season. In a not dissimilar way to how farmers sow, water, harvest and lie fallow, we’ve created BELONG, BECOME, B.L.E.S.S. and REST seasons. These seasons are designed to work with the rhythms of city life in London. The BELONG and B.L.E.S.S. seasons are particularly designed for people committed to Westminster Chapel, who want to engage further with our teaching on Sunday, with others. Essentially they operate as if we are groups meeting straight after the service to explore what was said in light of the Biblical text, review what we’ve heard, and discuss how it applies to our lives. In this context, we are processing an extensive amount of Bible study done by (we trust) gifted and recognised Bible teachers (primarily elders) given to us for our encouragement and edification.
We in no way dismiss the benefits of ‘raw’ group Bible study, where people come ‘fresh’ to a text and discuss it in detail. We try to provide opportunities for that in a more extensive way: 1. Between Jan-March in the BECOME term, where we typically run two intensive Bible study courses (in 2023, we will run one course on James for men and women, and one on Esther for women only). 2. We encourage it in GROW groups. See below.
We don’t want to be like the Pharisees who knew the Scriptures but didn’t come to and know Jesus (John 5:39-40). We don’t want to be merely hearers of the word but doers (James 1:22-25). This is why we give significant space to discuss how to live out and apply the Truth we are being taught; we don’t want to just know more Truth but be transformed by it.
C. Grow Groups. These are opt-in, deeper discipleship, same-sex groups of 2-4 that meet, at least fortnightly, for 6 to 12 months. They’re for Life Group attendees to get more time together in a smaller context to share more intimately. They’re for parents, 18-30s, 30+s to meet to encourage and learn from each other. They’re for ministry leaders and more experienced disciples to spend time investing in the next generation. They’re for anyone who wants to accelerate their spiritual growth. These groups were inspired by the three-person conversation on the Emmaus Road (Luke 24:13-35). Discipleship was happening on the road with Jesus, as life was being done together. It was taking place around issues of the moment, ‘now’ emotions, like anxiety, fear, and discouragement. It involved asking questions: ‘what…?’ ‘what…?’ ‘was it not…?’ and honest sharing. The Bible played a major role. It led to burning, happy hearts.