This is the first on a series of posts on how to approach church planting in the schemes.
There isn’t one clear way to plant a church in a housing scheme. There are multiple ways to approach the ministry.
- Pioneer a church plant from scratch.
- Take a team of believers with you into an area and begin a work.
- Take on a dying congregation and seek to revitalise that.
- Plant with the support of a group of churches.
- Graft on to an existing plant in order to stimulate it.
All of these require a different set of skills and gifts, and all come with their own peculiar difficulties and complications. Here are some basic lessons to consider at the outset.
1. Teams Plant Churches
At 20schemes, we think the ideal way to plant a church on a scheme is to have a team of people hitting the ground full-time. For us that means a church-planting leader, a ministry apprentice, and a female gospel worker are a must have in order to get going and gather early momentum. It is interesting to note that in the NT, Jesus sent the twelve out in pairs (Mark 6:7) and he also did the same thing with the seventy in Luke 10:1. The Apostle Paul took a similar approach in Acts 13:2 where we read:
“While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.”
Paul always seemed to have a little crew with him on his travels. Again, in Acts and this time 20:3–4 we read:
“There he spent three months, and when a plot was made against him by the Jews as he was about to set sail for Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia. Sopater the Berean, son of Pyrrhus, accompanied him; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy; and the Asians, Tychicus and Trophimus.”
All ministry is hard, but housing schemes and council estates are particularly difficult given the dearth of believers currently in the UK. A small, committed full-time team can be encouraged to coalesce around the vision of the planter when it comes to a vision, values, mission, and strategy for the work ahead. It’s important that this group don’t become a clique or closed off to new people coming along to the baby church, but they must be together on the important biblical and doctrinal principles.
In the early days, we must think of everything as being in the development phase. In other words, nothing is sacred in that it can’t be quickly scrapped in exchange for developments on the ground. For example, we may go in with a great idea for children’s ministry, but find the context better suited to older people or late teens. We must build flexibility into the mindset of our people from the off.
2. Prayer Fuels Churches
“And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:35–38)
Pray, pray pray. It really is as simple as that. Pray for your area. Pray for your team. Pray for a team if you don’t have one. Pray for volunteers. Pray for people to catch the vision. Pray for opportunities to witness. Pray for local people. Pray that God would bless your endeavours. Model prayer. Encourage your team to pray. If you are able, do it daily. Pray until something happens, and when it does, keep on praying.