I’ve share d some of our experiences and lessons so far. It would be helpful to finish by saying something about what we are looking to do going forward. As we have already seen, making plans and having dreams does not mean that something will definitely turn out the way we expect. That’s one of the great enjoyments of being involved in church life. We are constantly reminded hat God’s plans are bigger and greater than ours. However, it is good to have hopes and dreams. It’s right to make plans as long as our plans do not become idols.
Next for us?
First of all, one of the questions that comes up is what will happen to the individual congregations. For example, what if one congregation begins to develop its own identity and becomes more autonomous? We can see this as a bad thing, that we are losing control. However, , provided that they remain committed to the Gospel then is this really a big problem? If some of our congregations eventually become local churches in their own right with their own elders, membership etc then that should be a source of joy not sadness.
Secondly, as you will have picked up, we increasingly see multiplication of congregations as the right way forward. We want to give as many people as possible the opportunity to hear and respond to the Gospel and to be taught to obey Jesus. So we are currently looking at other options to start congregations.
We would like in the future to be able to plant a new church congregation away from the Chapel. There are many needy areas close by that would benefit from a Gospel witness. As yet, we are not sure about how this would come about. It might be that we ask a group to leave the Chapel to start a new church or it might be that someone comes along and partners with us to start a church from scratch.
We need to be aware that our own dreams and plans can fail. Some of the congregations we start may not last. Some of the things we try may not work. As we have already experienced, we may start to plan something and then have to pull back because circumstances change. However, whilst our plans may fail, God’s purposes are always accomplished. Our biggest desire as a church is to be faithful and fruitful in serving him so that together and individually we grow more into His likeness.
Next for you?
If you are part of a healthy, Gospel centred local church then hopefully you will have learnt something from our experience. Maybe some of our mistakes will have seemed painfully obvious and you will be wondering “why on earth did they do that?” But hopefully you have been encouraged and challenged. It might be that the lessons will be very specifically relevant if you are looking at planting and seriously considering the multiple congregation option. However some of the lessons will apply reasonably well to other types of planting. And even if you are not in a position to plant, there’s still some things to be learnt about how a church goes through change.
I’d also like to take the risk and put an appeal out because I’m aware that there may be people reading this who are interested in getting involved in some type of church planting in an urban, multi-cultural setting. We realise that the challenge of working in our local harvest field stretches us beyond our own resources. We are always on the look- out for people to partner with us. So if you are new to the area and looking for a church to get involved with and would like to be part of a church committed to planting out then drop in or get in touch. You might be particularly interested in our new 5pm “Engage” congregation.
Watch this space as we’re going to be sharing some further information about opportunities to partner with us very soon.