Leading a church in the inner city of Cape Town


Paul and Lee-Ann Maughan took the lead at Common Ground’s established city center congregation just over a year ago. Paul and Lee give us a bit of background on their move, their experience of city living and some helpful resources they have discovered to strengthen their ministry.

Paul, you and Lee-Ann were part of a healthy congregation, involved and engaged – why leave your jobs and go full time leading and not just continue as committed volunteers?

Great question!  The opportunity to lead the InnerCity congregation was a full time one and would require more than what a marketplace leader could provide.  We therefore weighed up the call and felt God place an excitement in both of us to change our careers, our home and our community.  Although it is only a 15 minute drive away, living in the city of Cape Town, rather than the suburbs, feels like a world away.  There is mystery in how these elements come together, but that growing excitement in both of us and counsel from those in leadership over us were great encouragements for us to make the move.  

You have taken the lead of Common Ground’s InnerCity congregation.  This church is located in one of South Africa’s most progressive, post church communities – what does the Gospel mean in this context, and what makes you hopeful about Kingdom advance in this environment?

As people of the suburbs, we are still learning about the Atlantic Seaboard and InnerCity!  People like Tim Keller, Mark Sayers, Jon Tyson and John Mark Comer have all helped us with frameworks and tools to apply. 

The gospel gives hope to everyone, but especially to those who have seen the promises of secularism run dry.  Their hustle toward career success, with multiple weekends away to correct the overwork culture, is not filling people’s purpose vacuum. 

We are forming a community that is moving in the opposite direction, according to the spirit of Jesus, and loving the great diversity of people that call Cape Town home.

Have you discovered any books or podcasts recently that you have found helpful, energizing or useful for equipping leadership teams in the church?

Sure.  This Cultural Moment is a superb podcast from Mark Sayers and John Mark Comer whilst Center Church from Tim Keller is the book that most acts like a church planters “How To”. 

I have also found it deeply enriching to read more about the history of Cape Town.  How did the city get started?  How did it grow?  What battles have been fought?  Knowing more about the history of the city has helped to connect me to its ethos and to the cosmopolitan array of people.  It also gives you authority among those still exploring the claims of Christ when you can also use analogies and examples from their own city. 

What can the movement pray for, specifically for your church community?

We would love to grow in following Jesus as a community; changing the culture of Cape Town more than have the culture of Cape Town change us!  This would include growth in our spiritual practices, mission and community.  We are seeking the good of Cape Town for the long haul and cherish your prayers!