Even before 2007, a group of young adults, mainly connected with St Paul’s Howell Hill, began to feel God’s call to minister in the town of Sutton (South London/Surrey). Over the course of a few months several of them began to move there, shift their work arrangements to be more Sutton based, and gradually hand over any ‘non-Sutton’ ministry responsibility they had. At the end of the summer in 2007 they began to meet weekly in order to eat together and pray for the town.
Out of this weekly prayer meeting, which continues to this day, several things have developed….
Towards the end of 2007 the group started to frequent a local pub called the Nightingale. This was with the motivation of building community amongst contacts who did not yet know Jesus, as well as making more friends with people we did not yet know (regulars and staff in the pub). Regularly meeting ceased in 2009, but the pub continues to be a great venue for us in terms of building community.
Sutton House of Prayer
After holding a 24/7 style weekend of prayer (24-7 prayer) in one of the group’s spare rooms towards the end of 2007 the team began to plot and pray towards setting up a permanent prayer room in and for Sutton. This culminated with three of the group (along with two others) obtaining the lease on a big house near the centre of town – for the 12 months of the lease there was a room dedicated to prayer where people could pop in any time to pray and over that 12 months many prayer meetings, days of prayer, and weekends of prayer, were held. The lease on this location came to end in 2009 and another large house in the town was rented again with a dedicated prayer room. The use of this room has been more sporadic, but the space has, and is still used for seasons of prayer.
During one of the Monday night prayer meetings the Lord spoke clearly to the group and said, ‘pray in Revolution’, one of the more popular local night clubs. In 2008 six cross church prayer events were held in the upstairs of the club. The three aims behind these events have were: 1) to be obedient to the Lord’s call to pray in the venue (spiritual warfare); 2) to draw Christians from the different Sutton churches together, particularly those in the 18-30’s age range (church unity); and 3) to attempt to get a foot into that community and culture (incarnation).
Networking with other Christians and churches in the town
Part of the unexpected fruit of the ‘Prayer Revs’ events was to put our group on the radar of the other local churches and leaders within the town. After a hesitant start we now have very positive working relationships with many of the local church leaders, and are now official members of Community Works – a board made up of 12 local churches who participate in joint Sutton based projects.
In 2008/9 the group ran its first Alpha course in the Gillett’s living room. This came out of a desire to share the gospel with people in a more intentional way. We believe this will be the first of several Alpha courses that The Well (perhaps with other churches) runs in the town.
Towards the end of 2008 the community was coming into more and more contact with people who had accommodation issues of one sort or another. People who were living on the streets, sofa surfing around friends places, or not knowing where to go having fallen out with their parents. The shared house got increasingly full as several people stayed there for anywhere between a night to several months. The Well hasn’t yet embarked on an official project to combat the homelessnes…
Over the months The Well has grown – primarily through young men being added to the group. In February and March 2009, the group ran 4 Saturday morning sessions called Titans. We met at 8.30am (a new experience for some) and looked at what the Bible calls men to, before heading down to Rosehill Park for punishing fitness sessions.
In March 2009 the group, in partnership with members of Chiltern church began work on an allotment. This community project has the aim of running a successful allotment growing food for our community and the wider town.
In January 2010, the one group of the Well multiplied into two groups – each comprosing of about 8 people. Each group continues to do what the original group did – meet and eat on a Monday night, pray for Sutton, and try and follow God’s lead.
These ‘projects’ are the most prominent part of what we do but we wonder if the most significant part of activity goes on in everyday life, week on week – being family, eating together, playing in sports teams, loving our work mates and the people God brings across our paths.
Beacons of Prayer
We felt God speak to us again about praying around the borough – focussing on the more deprived areas of the borough. Since February 2010 we have prayed in 2 of these locations in the borough. Both times have been very positive and the hope is to do at least 2 more locations before the end of the year.