Archive for the ‘Interviews with Planters’ Category

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I was encouraged to see Thabiti Anyabwile give a shout out to the work of 20Schemes on his blog recently. Check it out here. We are praying for a new wave of gospel workers and church planters to come and help us establish healthy, gospel centred churches in Scotland’s housing schemes.

Here are some resources from the Geneva Push 2011 Conference. As with all things, this is not a wholehearted recommendation for all of the content. But it is worth a perusal. Click here.

Niddrie Community Church, as part of our 20Schemes initiative, are currently involved in a year-long assessment of the viability of a church plant in West Pilton, one of  Edinburgh’s toughest housing schemes. Here is a short film highlighting the needs of this work.

FYI: I am very happy in this film to be on camera..

Joshua Marty Julie & Martha McNeely

Tell us a little about yourself

I am a 42 year old, son of a farmer from the NW Ulster/Donegal border. I Moved to the South of England when I was 10 and came back to the University of Ulster when 23. I played lots of sport, and despite frequently attending church, I was out drinking, DJing and getting up to all the usual lad stuff. I met a girl when I graduated at 26. She was clearly Christian and I realised that I wasn’t. So, I prayed at this time of crisis in my life and experienced great peace and a certainty about the evangelical Gospel. After media work for 4 yrs, I went into train for the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Belfast.

Tell us a little about the area you work in

Ballykeel Church is a 38 yr old plant in a once blossoming housing estate in the edge of middle class Ballymena, County Antrim. It has been suffering from drugs, political violence, family breakdown and economic deprivation. Due to massive public /Euro investment it has improved. There would be a few traditional Ulster Protestant religious families in the area. But, most folk know nothing about the Gospel and are truly pagan. It’s an estate of about 2,000 people / 1200 homes.

Tell us a little about how you got involved in ministry in this area

I was called to the Church by the elders.  I wanted a church with expository ministry, male elders and a missional heart.

Tell us a little about some of the difficulties of ministry

  1. Finding time for ongoing outreach, especially to local men.
  2. The time it takes to see people move from brokenness to the Gospel life.

Tell us a little about some of the blessings of your ministry

Sunday mornings can be amazing. Literally anyone could walk in the door. Great listening to the Word. Warm fellowship.

Do you have a team or do you work alone? Why?

I have a part-time Cornhill Belfast guy who does youth discipleship. Also, a retired CEF ministry lady who does elderly pastoral calls. We have elders and a committee who fulfil the traditional roles.

Do you have a plan or a strategy for reaching out with Christ?

Basic pastoral work, spending time in local bands / football / boxing club making connections. Doing weddings and funerals leading to bridge building, then to Christianity Explored then Disc Explored, then small groups.

How do you do discipleship?

As above. Though I try to delegate as much disc exp and then small groups to others.

What are the best resources you have come across?

I love Christianity Explored. Gospel Centered Life / books of C John (Jack) Miller have been v helpful for me personally and others in the Church

How important is training leaders for this work?

Massively. I spend tons of time with men and need to do more.

How can we best pray for you, your family and your work?

  1. Humility and grace as we serve our estate and church.
  2. Patience as I mission with people in and out of church.
  3. Resources. I would love to employ other apprentices/volunteers/retired missionary etc to join me.

Thanks for your time Marty and we wish you God’s blessing in your work.


Just to prove that (c)rapness knows no cultural bounds!

OK…this has been a ‘stop doing rap if it’s not your gig’ week. Indeed, what is worse is when churches think they’re cool by doing it as some sort of marketing tool to reach non Christians. They just think you’re tragic and very, very sad (more on that later). I am often asked if I ‘do’ rap here in Niddrie. The answer is ‘no’ for a number of reasons. Firstly, I don’t really like rap music! ( I know, shoot me! I’m not really a very ‘hip’ Christian. I’m not down wiv the yoof anymore). Secondly, we don’t work in a culture that pays much credence to this kind of music. Housing schemes here are, largely, white (with a growing immigrant population) and musical tastes seem somewhat neutral (bland?)- by that I mean some like may rap but they also like JLS along with it (I know, hideous). There doesn’t seem to be the dominant culture of one type. (In the 90’s when I was in my late teens it was the rave phenomenon that swept the country). It is hard to gauge one particular wave here.

So, why the bee in my bonnet about Christians doing (c)rap this week? Well, because an authentic, Christian rapper is actually coming to our shores to do launch a new album (Gravity). His name is Lecrae and I will post a vid of some of his stuff below for those who are a bit clueless. If you like what you see then let me suggest you snatch up some tickets quickly here.

ACTS29WE are putting on a gig in Manchester tomorrow in order to highlight he need for serious church planters and gospel workers in ‘High Priority Areas’ (I am assuming council estates and housing schemes here).

A few of my friends are involved in this endeavour. Duncan Forbes, a church planter in London (a real lover and connoisseur of rap), Steve Timmis will be there in conjunction with ACTS29WE (I think they are sponsoring the event), Dai Hankey who will be launching the book previewed yesterday (another dude who falls into the realm of genuine in this genre). Personally, I am excited at the prospect of them inspiring a new generation of church planters across the UK (and Europe). Let’s pray for young men to rise up from their x-boxes and leave it all on the table for Jesus in these difficult places.

(As a footnote to those who continually ask me about why I like A29WE so much it is because Steve Timmis is not only serious about talking about housing scheme/estate ministry, he is actually doing something about it. Not only that, he is even inviting those of us who have been battling for ages in this ministry to the table and treating us as equals – end of rant).

As for the rest of you churches and sad middle-aged, church marketeers out there, using this genre in an attempt to make the church appear ‘cool’  STOP IT NOW! This is what you actually look like.

This is what the real deal looks actually looks like.

Here’s his testimony of faith in Jesus Christ.

More and more churches are now offering apprenticeships specifically for church planters rather than for preaching/pastoral ministry per se. I think that this can only be a good thing. At Niddrie we are starting off with our first planting trainee as of September and we are hoping to encourage more and more trainees over the years as we seek to address the need for more gospel centred churches in our many needy housing schemes. Very few churches in the UK are geared up to train young church planters and therefore it is imperative that this is something that gets rolled out across the UK and Europe in the next 5 years.

Acts 29WE have grasped the importance of this and are currently offering church planting internships for Western Europe. Please click on the link here for further information on this. Here is some of their spiel:

We are looking for men and women to work hard in small churches in difficult situations. There will be small reward, constant confusion and frustration. You will be misunderstood, misrepresented and maligned.

You will receive training and mentoring in an Acts 29 Western Europe church plant. This will equip you for a life of unknown, unsung, heart-wrenching and often unfruitful ministry. And an undying joy and wonder in the presence of Jesus Christ.

You will be a nobody who has nothing to offer. But you will follow Jesus, and you will know you need nothing else.

We are not yet involved directly with Acts 29WE but I hope to be and in the future Niddrie could possibly be a placement church for them as well. Regardless, it is well worth checking out if you are interested in planting in any capacity.

Enjoy the following video from Dustin Neeley, extolling the benefits of engaging with a church planting apprenticeship residency.

Can the outlooks of two generations coexist in one church? James Merritt, 59, serves as senior pastor of Cross Pointe Church in Duluth, Georgia. His son, Jonathan Merritt, 29, joined the church staff in 2008. In many respects, they couldn’t be more different. James represents the Boomer generation’s approach to faith in Christ. Jonathan’s Christian faith was forged in a postmodern context. When they start talking about theological or political issues, the sparks fly—so much so that James’s wife (Jonathan’s mother) has to leave the room and let them go at it. But underneath their intense differences, there’s a profound respect for each other. Each has a passionate drive to share the gospel and influence the world for Christ. Leadership Journal’s Matt Woodley met them in James’s famous “Georgia Bull ‘Dawgs’ room,” where he asked them about outreach, compassion, justice, and evangelism.

This is a fascinating article which you can read in full here.

I got this little video from Vimeo as I wait to publish a fuller interview of Lucas on the blog soon. It doesn’t give loads of details but it does two things: (1) It at least shows his mug and a little about his vision and (2) it introduces Acts 29WE, and organisation I am going to blog about shortly. Bottom line: He’s a church planter and we love those!! Enjoy.