Back in the day I used to dream of moving St Barnabas to the High Road without a hitch on the way. We'd get a bigger, better, newer, more efficient building in a fantastic location, largely paid for by the sale of our existing church, that would provide for the mission and ministry of the church for a generation. Perhaps we would do a bit of fundraising on the side to pay for the bells and whistles in our superlative new facility. In my dream the rest of the project would be a graceful waltz, full of happiness, laughter and peace.
But dreams aren't real, and the Go and Grow adventure has turned out to be unrecognisable from my earlier fantasies. So nothing prepared me for the reality of the war of attrition that has ensued, where there has been no let-up in the overwhelming pressure on us and where every inch of ground gained must be fought over at great cost.
And still it goes on. In order to achieve our ambitions we have had to step out in faith, putting everything on the line. We are having to fundraise to previously unimagined levels, to a point that I sometimes feel like a staggering man gasping with thirst. We have had to strip out of the plans, first the bells and whistles, and then every detail that could be termed a "nice to have", rather than a "basic essential" without which the building would not function. And now it seems that even this total dedication may not be enough.
Yet we have also seen many incredible milestones on the journey: the parish boundaries being agreed; Solar House coming on the market; the purchase; the VAT; the tenants all agreeing to move; the sale of St Bs' existing site; the outstanding initial fundraise; the encouraging meetings with Barnet planners; a huge gift; and most recently an amazing opportunity concerning the North Wing. All these add up to a remarkable story of nail-biting faith and God at work. With Paul we say: " We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed" (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). This gives me hope that God will indeed give us a bigger, better, newer, more efficient building in a fantastic location, to provide for the mission and ministry of the church for a generation. But great achievement invariably comes at great cost.