The Start of The Vision and Heart of Radical Church
The vision for Radical church has been in me for many years. It has, however, only been recently that I felt the Lord say for me to do it personally. On January 9th I was on a fast and was seeking the Lord about the future this year in terms of ministry. I felt that many doors had been shut to me. I felt the Lord say to “start a church with a new wine skin.” This was a shock to me and I started to argue with the Lord and protested that I was an evangelist and had planned to do preaching, crusades, and outreach. I was so shocked that I said I “will have nothing to do with it unless You confirm it.” I felt the Lord remind me at this time that some evangelists like David Wilkerson had become pastors; also under protest.
The only person I told about my conversation with the Lord was my wife. I daren’t tell anybody else; in fact I was really concerned that my church and others would think I was trying to split churches and be rebellious. On 11th January two days later I went to a prayer meeting. The lady hosting the prayer meeting is a real intercessor and respected woman of God. I asked this woman if she would pray for me as I was seeking the Lord. She turned to me (without knowing my conversation with the Lord ) and said something like this “Pray for you about starting a church you need to just start it”. I started to cry and said to this precious lady “You don’t need to pray for me about it, you`ve just confirmed it.” It was a Holy moment for me. From this point on all fear and apprehension about what people will think went, and was replaced by an excitement and confidence that it was His plans not mine.
The Vision is a church that is for the marginalised, that targets those who don’t conventionally fit into “Normal” middle class congregations. Those, who could be seen by some as unlovable. A church that is family to those who come inside. A church that is simply like a return to the book of Acts. A church that meets on a daily basis, that eats together, shares resources, truly cares and moves in power.
1) The prisoners: Many prisoners find Christ whilst doing their time inside. They then come out and are given forty pounds and a bedsit. Life can be lonely and getting work difficult with a criminal record. We would be actively wanting to help these individuals and love and disciple them and give them purpose.
2) Prostitutes/sex workers: Many ladies have suffered sexual abuse and have then gone onto substance misuse and then onto prostitution to fund a drug habit. We would like to work with other Christian agencies to work with these girls and provide a church that is radical enough to love and help break the cycle in their lives. To find the treasures in darkness.
3) Addictions: I feel a passion to work with those with addictions. To see them get free, find purpose and love in Jesus and then to work in the church.
4) Homeless: Often some or all of the above are interwoven in homelessness. We would like to gain respect within the homeless community and work long-term with those on the streets.
The above groups have one thing in common they need Jesus. They don’t always fit easily into church, and I feel need more than just a weekly meeting. These treasures in darkness need consistency, love, discipling, as well as practical help. They may be treasure but they need discovering, washing, polishing, cherishing and showing off.
Radical Church would look to avoid people just attending/spectating rather encourage discipleship and service. It would actively evangelise on the streets and invite people to come to church; pick them up give them a meal and then would go further. Once Born Again it would look to baptise them promptly, get them filled with the Holy Spirit healed and delivered. It would look to disciple them and then give them opportunity to minister in the gift calling God has given them.
Radical Church would not be looking to “steal other churches sheep”. When praying about this concern I heard the Lord say that the “Most radical on fire people in this church are yet to be Saved” They are still on the streets. This made me laugh; I believe the Lord wants ALL the Glory. I believe He wants show homes/Living Epistles that show off what He is capable of. When a new estate is built they always start by building the show homes first to show what it will look like and what is possible. If the Blood of Jesus can wash away sin then I want to see Jesus Save to the uttermost, wash the vilest offender and transform the worst.
A friend of mine was a street pastor and also actively involved in the soup run in Norwich. He said one time he came across a man they had not met before and they didn’t see him afterwards. (Note, it is usual for people to be well known to the workers, so this was unusual). This man turned to my friend and said, “The next revival is going to come through the homeless, the drug addicts, prostitutes. “ You know, that story bugged me for a whole week; I couldn’t get it out of my mind. Maybe, just maybe, that homeless man, with a message was an angel. When the tide comes in when the floods come they come to the low places first. I believe there is a real harvest out there if only we would look and the Lord wants to reach the low places as seen by society first. Jesus takes the foolish things, the base things the unwanted rejected things to shame the wise and show off what he can do.
I have been crying out to the Lord asking where the William Booths of my generation are. William Booth and the Salvation Army changed the UK radically with the Gospel. When you look at the vision of William Both it was astounding; it affected the whole of a man and subsequently society. He painted the vision which depicts reaching out to sinners and getting them Saved. It didn’t stop there though. He then got them cleaned up, housed, and got them employment. Now that’s radical.
Housing: Long term vision is to have small four bedroom houses (fifty plus) so you can offer accommodation to people (single sex). The church can be a meeting point for a community of individuals being mentored and discipled. It can also be a rehab/supportive accommodation as it were in the community. God puts the solitary in families.
Enterprise/Employment: To provide employment to those that aren’t necessarily able to cope with full time work or through prejudice are unable to secure work. I was in dialogue with someone in Manchester who provides Christian employment specifically for ex-prisoners. They run a beauty salon/hairdressers run by women who have come out of prison. They also run a cafe/restaurant, and a bicycle restoration business. It was so encouraging talking to them. People need the whole package. And i feel the church needs to be the head and provide this. They need to be Saved/Born again, baptised, filled with the Holy Spirit, housed, fed, mentored be given purpose and employment. This employment could be non profit and profits could go back into the work/people.
I haven’t got all the answers; this is just an overview of what I feel the Lord is leading us to. I haven’t included the structure of prayer meetings or internship to include just two important categories. A New wine-skin, which is able to carry His Glory to the streets. A church that would recycle people, value them and give them purpose. I am not wanting to compete with other churches or discredit them in any way but the opposite to bless them. I just know this is God and want to do what He has called me to do.
Please pray for me as I take this forward in Norwich. Please consider agreeing to become someone who will agree to pray one day a week for this ministry for 10 minutes (minimum). I am so in need of prayer cover. I am in need of wisdom at this time. If you feel you can commit to this than please let me know. I value your input and wisdom in this matter. It’s not about me or a ministry it’s all about Jesus. `
That the lamb that was slain might receive His reward. `
Yours In Jesus
Posted 24th February 2013 by Matt Richards
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