20schemes Equip is a new website that exists to resource churches in the world’s poorest communities. I (Ben Hansen) asked Mez McConnell and Matthew Spandler-Davison about the history of 20schemes, what kind of content we’ve released to this point, and what we hope this new site will achieve.
When was 20schemes started?
Matthew: We launched 20schemes in October, 2012. In reality though, the idea for 20schemes predated that as Mez saw Niddrie Community Church (NCC) begin to grow and make a real impact in that scheme in Edinburgh. He, and the members of NCC, sensed a growing burden for the thousands of unreached people living in schemes across Scotland.
I met Mez in early 2012 because I too had a burden for church planting in Scotland. I was struck by three things in particular about Niddrie Community Church. First, they were seeing conversion growth—an unfamiliar sight in Scotland! Second, the men and women coming to Christ were leaving lives that had been ravaged by addictions, crime, and abuse. And third, NCC was a healthy and theologically solid church, which meant that as people came to know the Lord, they were discipled in a good local church. Seeing those three things convinced me and my church that this was a church we should partner with.
When I first met Mez, he told me he wanted to see churches planted and revitalised across the schemes of Scotland. So I asked him, “What do you need?”. He told me, with his typical frankness, “Money and people”. This led to the launch of 20schemes—a partnership between our two churches in order to raise money and send people to support church planting and revitalisation in the schemes of Scotland. Now, seven years later, we have 10 churches working in five cities across Scotland. We have about 60 people on our team—one third of whom are indigenous converts! We praise God for His grace to us.
What has the 20schemes blog been like up to this point?
Mez: It has been amazing obviously! We’ve built up a worldwide following and have blogged on a variety of issues: addiction, mental health, preaching, church planting, and women’s ministry to name a few. We’ve also done the odd book review.
Matthew: Mez had written a number of blogs on his church website, and that content began to get some attention around the world. There were very few evangelical and reformed men writing about engaging the poor with the gospel. When we launched 20schemes, we wanted our website to be a place where we could tell our story but also offer help to others doing ministry in similar contexts. Sadly, there’s a significant lack of good resources for those ministering among the poor. What we observed was that 20schemes began to fill that gap. And not just in the English-speaking world, but in Spanish and Portuguese too.
What is 20schemes Equip? Why are we launching a new content site at this point?
Mez: We’re launching the site in response to our growing worldwide audience. Equip will be a dedicated site for articles, book reviews, and videos that relate to ministry in hard communities around the world. We will also be highlighting content written from various contexts and countries.
Matthew: 20schemes is a ministry committed—primarily—to growing healthy churches in the schemes of Scotland. We’re unapologetic in making that our core focus. However, we don’t want to ignore the unique opportunity we have to support and resource those doing ministry in poor communities around the world. So we made the decision to launch 20schemes Equip as a venue for articles, podcasts, music, book reviews, and training courses—all designed to equip men and women who are ministering to the poor, no matter where they are.
Tell us more about the resources that will be on the site.
Matthew: This site is more than just a blog. It’s a bank of resources. We’re launching with hundreds of unique articles, organised by topic, relevant to ministry among the poor. These topics include things such as addiction, abuse, suicide, mental health, pastoral ministry, and more. Equip will also host our 20schemes Uncut podcast, where Mez interviews practitioners from around the world. Additionally, we plan to highlight 20schemes music, which is composed by and for those living in poor communities. We’ll tell the story behind those songs and provide lead sheets so that others can use them in their churches. We’re also developing training courses to provide certifications in various aspects of urban ministry, with specialisms for women’s workers, church planters, youth and children’s workers, biblical counselling, and more.
Who will the content be aimed at?
Mez: Primarily at pastors, planters, and women’s workers in difficult communities around the world. But the resources will be relevant to anyone working to see the gospel brought to the poor through healthy local churches.
Matthew: All Equip content will be very clearly directed at those involved in ministry to the poor. No matter where you are or what your role is, if you are seeking to evangelise, disciple, or lead a church in an area of poverty, then we hope this will become a go-to resource for you. Our desire is to equip you well for that work.