Posts Tagged ‘20 Schemes’

I will be leaving this link open for archiving purposes but can i ask you all to follow us now on the following link:

http://www.20schemes.com/mark-dever-introducing-20-schemes/

We have moved over to the 20schemes website but it will still be the same person writing the blog (me) with a few guest bloggers and still on largely the same subject matter. Could i ask you to please swap your subscription form this blog to the other one. I would be extremely grateful for that. It is so easy. One click of a button and it will be done.

Thank you to the many 1000’s who have supported this site over the last 18 months and I pray that you will continue to enjoy, be encouraged and be resourced by our new site.

Blessings to all!

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As you can tell I am using lots of video fillers for the Christmas season. Tomorrow I will start the countdown on my top 3 blog posts of 2012 (statistically). Then, early in the New Year I will be leaving this blog and starting over at www.20schemes.com. However, I will give plenty of notice about this and hope that all of my followers and subscribers make the move with me!

About 5 years ago, in response to the countless Christmas Family Newsletters we receive each year, we began our own ‘alternative’ version. It was partly due to my irritation at being told how good ‘Rupert’ was at the trombone now or how ‘Felicity’ had been voted the ‘Best Drawer In A Decade’ at the local infant school. That accompanied with said children in various poses around the piano or with a book of sonnets tucked under their arm made me want to vomit (a lot). So, I produced my own version. Oddly, over the years, the amount of Newsletters we receive has dropped off considerably! Also, without fail, every year I will get at least one email from somebody congratulating me on the amazing exploits of my family! So, what’s true and what’s false? You decide. I will give you a clue though. I do not know anybody with children called Rupert or Felicity! Enjoy this year’s offering.

McConnell Christmas Newsletter 2012

Seasons Greetings Campers!

Miriam and I have discussed in-depth this year about how we ought to be wording these yearly updates. It seems that some people are intimidated and have even been offended by the content of previous years. We can only sincerely apologise if that has been the case. So, in order to assuage these individuals, and to show just how considerate we are, we have decided not to include a family photo this year. This is so our friends, particularly those with ugly children, are not embarrassed by the shining beauty of our glorious offspring. That’s the sort of love and Christmas spirit we are bringing to the table this year! And what a year it has been in the McConnell household. Thrills and spills galore. Strap yourselves in and get ready for the ride of your Christmas season.

Yes, it is that time of year when, once again, we McConnell’s bring a little colour into the drab, greyness of your uninteresting, sad, little lives. We hope you enjoy!

What news of the Girls?

Keziah has grown up ever so quickly this year and had the opportunity to enter university early, at the age of 11. We were somewhat miffed at the slowness of her educational development but she has assured us she will apply herself better in the coming year. We are currently investigating courses for her in trumpeting. At the moment we are deciding over Cambridge, Oxford or Harvard. She is being swayed by the latter’s course on Intellectual Renaissance History. We have no idea what it means but a degree with the word intellectual in it sound almost too good to pass up. Obviously, we will keep you all fully informed. Even if your own child is not as gifted as ours, and it is highly unlikely, fear not for you can live vicariously through our own supremely gifted progeny.

Lydia has developed a keen interest in environmental issues this year. She has taken to sleeping on a bed made entirely of hay rather than a bed ‘manufactured in factories that don’t adhere strictly to the Kyoto Treaty guidelines’ (her words, the little poppet). She has also decided to live off food that has only fallen naturally to the ground and been captured on a bed of duck feathers, so as to minimise the suffering of her personal sustenance. Also, this year, we took her for an IQ test this year and, sadly, they were unable to give us a fair indication because she was, quote, ‘off the scale’. Perhaps the favourite answer she gave during her interview came out when asked what, if any, unfulfilled ambition she has. ‘To write a mould breaking, genre-busting and philosophically world shattering series of novels.’ It’s that complete lack of pretension that constantly brings a tear to my eye.

What news of the adults?

Miriam continues to blossom, under the headship of Mez, like a Rose planted in a bucket of the finest manure. This year she entered the UK National Crochet Championships and initially finished second. Thankfully – and to avoid the shame of being tagged a ‘loser’– our complaint about the legitimacy of the other competitor’s ‘Granny Square’ was upheld and she was awarded the first prize. You should have seen the look on the face of the lady who was disqualified – it was priceless – especially when we tipped her out of her wheelchair and did a victory dance in front of her tear stained face. It was certainly a highlight of our year! We also gave each of the other competitors a tract on the meaning of grace. Many of them looked like they could have done with some – talk about sore losers!

Mez was approached this year to play a part in the upcoming Hobbit trilogy. Unfortunately, he failed on his audition as a dwarf (too short, apparently). They informed him, in writing, that they will keep him on file should The Smurfs ever make it to the big screen.

Serious Stuff

It’s been a particularly busy year for the church. We have recently seen 10 baptisms and have more planned for early next year. God has been so good to NCC and we are immensely thankful to Him for all He is doing here. One of these was Keziah who has really been growing in her faith in the last year. Lydia has decided to wait a while to make sure that she is really ready.

We have also launched a new ministry in the church – 20 schemes (www.20schemes.com). We also have a facebook page – please like us on there if you can. This is a ministry dedicated to planting and/or revitalising gospel churches in 20 housing schemes in Scotland over the next 10 years. We are operating in partnership with Bardstown Christian Fellowship in Kentucky, under the leadership of Matthew Spandler-Davison. Please check us out online and pray for us in this new venture. Anybody who would like to support this work financially can contact me at mez@niddrie.org.

We have seen a number of people come to faith throughout the year and, thankfully, all of them seem to be going strong. JRH is full to capacity with 4 men most of whom having been saved out of drug and crime backgrounds. Their testimonies are available to watch at www.niddriepastor.com. Please continue to pray for our work in the community and for our very busy Christmas outreach programmes.

Can I wish you all a great and restful Christmas and a Happy New year!

Mez Miriam Keziah & Lydia.

As many of you are aware, I have recently returned from the USA launch of 20Schemes. I suggest you click on the link if you do not know what that is. 20schemes is partnering with Bardstown Christian Fellowship in the planting and revitalisation of gospel centred churches in some of Scotland’s poorest housing schemes.

As I was there for 5 days of intense meetings, lectures and preaching I observed several things.

1. The BCF churches – Grace & Redeemer – are relatively small churches compared to the rest of the USA. Grace, the largest, is about the same size as Niddrie Community Church (my home church). Both congregations are not poor but nor are they rich. In other words, small churches coming together on both sides of the Atlantic can actually, with God’s help, make big things happen. The vision for 20 schemes has not grown from a mega church and yet far outstrips many in the scope of what we hope, by God’s grace, to achieve in the next decade. Never fall into the trap of thinking that because your congregation is small they cannot have a  part to play in world mission. The remarkable generosity of brothers and sisters in the USA never ceases to amaze me. They have such an openness to share time and resources. Leaders who have never met me have been so supportive of 20 schemes and have been going out of their way to help us to succeed in what we are trying to do. This flies in the face, often, of many in the UK who are suspicious of ideas like this and are often very negative and critical about whether it will succeed or not. This ‘can do’ attitude of so many stateside is a real breath of fresh air.

2. Partner organisations and individuals have just been unbelievably kind and generous to us. 9Marks have been a first rate example of this. Many of their leaders have given us such invaluable input and advice across a broad range of areas from branding, marketing, theology, finances and overall strategy. They have even offered to help us train our leaders through their own weekenders and printed material. Dr Jeff Walters at Southern Seminary allowed me to go into the classroom and teach a group of MA students for 2 hours on the vision of 20 schemes and the challenge of church planting in housing schemes. Another brother I met for the first time was Brian Croft who blogs at Practical Shepherding. He is not only sitting on our board but also offered us help in terms of fundraising, raising the profile, training young pastors, resources and allowing me to blog on housing scheme issues monthly on his site. I would like to thank all of these people who have been such a good example to me and I hope, one day, when 20 schemes has the means, to be able to offer the same level of help and practical support that has been shown to us.

3. I have admired the attitude of my elders at NCC and the elders of Matthew’s church at BCF. Both sets of men have graciously freed us up to pursue this ministry on behalf of both our congregations and without this kind of forward thinking we would not have gotten this far. This is a vision shared by both our communities and we hope it will grow in the hearts and minds of many over the coming years as we engage in this exciting gospel partnership together.

Finally, can I thank our Advisory Board Members who skyped together across three time zones for the first time this week. We hope in the years to come they will continue to ask us hard questions and offer us helpful counsel as we seek to serve the poor in Scotland for the sake of the glorious gospel of Jesus. I have listed them below.

Dr Jeff Walters (SBTS)

Robert Briggs (Scottish Pastor, Sacramento)

Mark Schenk (Scottish pastor, Edinburgh)

Marc Surtees (NCC elder)

Brian Croft (Pastor, Louisville)

Steve Robinson (Pastor, Liverpool)

All have are current pastors and between them possess broad experience in church planting cross culturally, church revitalisation work and an understanding of the current problems in Scottish housing schemes. Please continue to pray for us as we keep you updated on our progress.

I have been away in the US for the launch of 20 schemes and so I have been a bit disorganised with my posts.  Tomorrow, I hope to post a review of my trip overseas. But, for today, I will link to two posts that struck me for different reasons.

John Stevens link here.

A really helpful (and in-depth) article on the gay marriage debate. Please take the time to read it because it has serious implications for all of us who take the Bible as the full and authoritative word of God.

Telegraph Article here.

Not a Christian response but a fascinating insight into the mind of our secular culture.

Please visit our site: http://www.20schemes.com for more details.

The ironic thing about this video is I am uploading it at 4:30am because I can’t sleep. Although, in my own defence, I am in America and 5 hours out of sync with my body clock. Enjoy this discussion on why so many of us are tired all the time. Challenging stuff personally as I work in Niddrie, train leaders and seek to establish 20 schemes as a ministry in Scotland. I may have to buy a gun and go squirrel hunting!

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.

We are launching our Niddrie’s new church planting initiative in the next few weeks. We currently have a Facebook page which you can like here. This weekend we will be launching our new website. Last week, as many of you know, we launched in America at the SEBTs 2012, 9Marks Conference and we had an overwhelmingly positive response. We still have internal legal issues and policies to sort out but we are well on the way to seeing our first wave of gospel workers coming out within the next 12 months. I will, of course, be writing much more about our vision over the course of the next few months. I wanted to show you the following clip that was made for students in the states in order to challenge them about the needs we have in housing schemes in our country.

For a first stab I was very happy with it. This will not be the final edit because there are several things we need to change, craft, get rid of and adapt (not withstanding the fact it was filmed for an American context). But we are excited to think that God is going to stir up a generation of young men and women from around the world to come to Scottish housing schemes to help us rise up a future generation of church leaders, church planters and gospel workers. Please pray with us.

At Niddrie we will be launching a new church planting initiative within the next month. We are calling it “20Schemes” and further details will follow. We are launching this project in partnership with a church in Kentucky called Bardstown Christian Fellowship, itself planted by a Scotsman, Matthew Spandler-Davison. We are also benefitting hugely from the support, partnership and advice of the 9Marks organisation and Capitol Hill Baptist Church. Just this week they promoted “20Schemes” at their annual Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary Conference in front of almost 2000 people, in North Carolina.

The aim of 20Schemes is to revitalise and/or plant 20 gospel churches in 20 Scottish housing schemes in the next 10 years. We want to recruit 20 planters to train 20 church leaders, 20 women to train 20 female gospel workers and 20 ministry apprentices to each make 20 disciples. Our aim is big and bold and, ultimately, is about finding a long-term way to grow indigenous leaders in places we would never think possible.

The questions/criticisms I am getting in some quarters are :

Why go to America? Why not recruit and train people from this country? Haven’t we moved past this approach to cross cultural mission?  Surely, we should be recruiting home grown men for this endeavour?

My answer? Show me some home grown men with the cojones to plant and/or revitalise churches in housing schemes. I am all for recruiting and developing home grown people. In fact, our first planting intern in West Pilton is a Scotsman, but the sad reality is that there is a dearth of Christian men in our country willing to give their lives to this kind of ministry.

Many of the men I know who are at Bible colleges and/or on local church internships, whilst sympathetic to the cause, have no intention of going into housing schemes. They want to be youth workers, or pastoral assistants or missionaries but they certainly don’t want to be any of those things in areas of urban deprivation (not in Scotland anyway). Why is that? I think there are a several reasons: firstly, many churches and gospel ministries in these places are dying, often with aging congregations holding on to history and past glories, unwilling to change. In a world of options men would prefer to go elsewhere or plant their own church rather than have to deal with that kind of political battle. Secondly, almost every man I have spoken to recently about our ministry, WITHOUT EXCEPTION, have pointed to ‘family responsibilities’ as the reason they can’t seriously consider our kind of ministry. Thirdly, I think there is a problem with how middle class churches and institutions are training people. We have more seminars and conferences than ever before. We have more churches who are training leaders than ever before. Yet, still this shortfall. The problem, I fear, is in the fact that we lack the courage to take risks at local church level. Churches want the perfect CV, the perfect candidate and the perfect answers to theological questions (or not as the case may be). The pond we are fishing in here is never going to produce that (certainly not at the outset). Local men are not going to handle 40 hour a week lectures on Exegesis and Hermeneutics. They are not going to be polished speakers or have the finesse of fine apologetics. Unless I’m reading my Bible wrong, the early disciples weren’t University graduates either. They were common men with a love for the Lord, supernaturally endowed with the spiritual gifts necessary to build the church.

In all the talk of biblical manhood and being manly it seems that growing a beard and going to a manly type conference is as near as we are getting to encouraging entry into housing scheme ministry. Everybody agrees to its necessity and are wishing me lots of luck in what we are trying to do but that’s about it. Therefore, we need a new approach in how we tackle the problem of planting in our specific field. Scrap that, we need an approach full stop. Our aim here is to generate, at least initially, outside interest in order to stimulate inside growth and momentum. If we have to go the states and other countries then we will. It is better than sitting here wringing our hands at the dearth of young men wanting to step out in faith. We are certainly starting down a risky road. But I think it is necessary. I think that such is the problem in our country at this moment in history that, in God’s providence, we have little choice but to take these steps. I think we are not going to see local men taking responsibility unless we put steps in ourselves to ensure future growth and development. I think it is going to be a long, drawn out painful process. I think it is going to be a lot of growing on the job. I think it is going to be intuitive, a lot of making it up as we go along and maybe a few painful mistakes along the way.

Back to my original question: Where are all the men? Pray for us as we not only seek to answer that question but provide solutions that are both God honouring and sustainable. Superficially, it will look like a lot of outsiders coming in, but underneath we are working on a long-term, sustainable strategy to grow truly indigenous planters, women’s workers and ministry apprentices. But we need more than a good plan and a well worked strategy. We need God’s favour.