August may be a quiet month, but it’s a key time to start praying for the ministry year ahead! Please use the August prayer newsletter to pray for the planters as they plan for September.
The Antioch planters will be continuing to work hard in their pioneering planting work over the summer.
Please do show your support by praying for them, and let us never underestimate the power of prayer! Why not commit to pray for a particular plant throughout the summer?
You are always welcome to get in touch for more info, or to invite a planter to your church prayer meeting.
Thank you for your support!
You can read the prayer news here… July Prayer Newsletter
What a privilege it is that we can freely come before our Heavenly Father in prayer. Let’s join together in praying for His continued work through the Antioch planters and their church plants this month.
The May prayer newsletter can be viewed here…May Prayer Newsletter
Becontree is miles away. Not from Dagenham admittedly. But I live in Streatham. And it’s miles away. And so my heart sank temporarily on Monday morning when I realised my termly visit to London’s north-east had come around again. Google maps quoted 1 hour 37 minutes if I went by bike. That was the briefest of deliberations. I didn’t feel I could justify putting Uber on expenses. But Rosslyn had the car. And so I went by public transport. I must have sat on the District Line from Victoria for an hour. But it dawned on me that Mike Reith, the Antioch Planter in Becontree, has been travelling this journey almost every week to commute to the Antioch. So why has he done that?
In short, he’s loved being part of a cohort of planters who get together to talk strategy, share scars and swap war stories. It’s been the camaraderie and the stimulation of being part of a group who really get what you’re doing ‘from the inside’ that makes that kind of commute worthwhile. The other Antioch Planters know what he’s going through. They’re asking the same kinds of questions. They know what it feels like; the discouragements, the excitement, the anxiety and uncertainty. They get it. It’s one thing to be independent and single minded. It’s quite another to be isolated. And there are a lot of lonely church planters out there. But one thing God has done through Antioch is to form these guys into a Band of Brothers. And our planters are better off for it.
It’s worth saying that Mike is not your typical church planter for the urban estate environment. He wears a Barbour and flat cap, owns a labrador and still thinks a tattoo is something that involves the army and happens in Edinburgh. But for the last three years, ever since he led the church planting team out from Dagenham Parish Church where he’d been the Senior Minister for over twenty years, he has been engaging the estate with the good news of the gospel. Their door knocking ministry is beginning to bear significant fruit. A number of people from the estate have joined their church and some have professed faith in Christ. And now Becontree Church is a gnat’s whisker away from being recognised as a Co-Mission established church. What that means is that in God’s kindness he’s grown the congregation, provided them with resources and raised up leaders to take responsibility for the gospel ministry there. It’s a wonderful story of the planting team’s stubborn sacrifice and God’s grace.
As most of the Antioch planters move into their last term of training and funding through the Antioch Plan, please keep them and their church plants in your prayers.
Here are some specific things the planters are wanting to give thanks and pray for this month… April Prayer Newsletter
March is just around the corner… here are some ways you can be praying for the Antioch plants throughout the month. March Prayer Newsletter
I grew up in a small Northamptonshire village. Croughton, since you ask. You’ve not heard of it? At the bottom of our road, about 40 metres from our front door was a small Methodist church. When I was very young I once watched the evangelistic film ‘The Cross and the Switchblade’ at some youth event there that someone had organised. It may even have been part of a holiday club. But it was the only time I ever went into that building. Sadly, it’s now a very nice home. Week by week throughout my teenage years there seemed to be very little going on. As a family, we drove 5 miles into a neighbouring church where we attended a church with which my three sisters and I became increasingly disillusioned. It could have been the only thing we ever agreed upon growing up! I wasn’t a Christian. And I was in no danger of becoming one if I stayed there. So, it was perhaps providential that I was sent off to Boarding School for sixth form studies. At Monkton Combe School I became sympathetic to the Christian faith without ever really understanding it. But I encountered Christians of integrity and worthy of respect and that challenged my preconceptions. That could have happened sooner.
I came home from school during the holidays and often wondered about giving the church at the bottom of our road a go. In the time I’d been away an infusion of enthusiastic Christians from the nearby American Airforce Base had started attending and there seemed to be signs of genuine spiritual life emanating from within the four walls. It also helped that they had the amplifier turned up to eleven and in a quiet rural community that gets you noticed! But at no point did that church try to connect with the community in which it was placed. In one sense, it didn’t matter because God found other ways of reaching me with the gospel and bringing me to faith. But it could have happened sooner.
Rob Pickering, the pastor of Selhurst Evangelical Church came into the Antioch Workshop this week to talk about Community Engagement. Under Rob’s leadership and with the enthusiastic support of the congregation, God has used a very simple four fold strategy at Selhurst. It’s summarised in the alliteratively natty
1. Focal point and footfall
Getting the church out of the building and into the community to increase people’s awareness of their existence. In usually involves standing outside Sainsbury’s as people do their shopping and presenting a friendly face and a warm greeting before letting people know about the church.
2. Follow the community map
Door to door visitation to advertise the existence of the church and provide people with an opportunity to engage with the gospel on their doorstep if they so wish.
3. Face to face on the frontline
Providing people with the opportunity to engage with the bigger issues of life through walk up questionnaires and conversation starters.
4. Free to invite
Creating an ‘every Sunday’ invitational approach to church among every member of the congregation.
Every one of those four approaches encourage church members to act as human signposts pointing people to the hope held out in the gospel. Rob’s session got the creative juices flowing. We were provoked to ask what are we doing where we are with whom we’ve got and with the opportunities God has given us to engage our community. It’s what the Methodist Church at the end of Wheeler’s Rise, Croughton failed to do. We don’t want to make the same mistake.
You can find the latest prayer and praise points from the Antioch planters here… February Prayer Newsletter
Planting pregnant was a term that was bandied around at a recent church planting and church growth conference I attended. It’s an arresting and somewhat discomforting image for male church planters! But it’s helpful. It refers not to the gynaecological condition of the church planter but to the reproductive potential of the ministry team. The essential idea is that a church planter should plan and plant with a potential planter in utero so that at some stage in the future they’re good to go.
I was at the London Underground Church a couple of Sundays ago. One of the unexpected delights was the chance to sit under the teaching of someone who was once part of a youth group that I used to run. Dave Seckington was up in the place of the regular preacher at LUC, Malcolm Riley. We were in Jonah 1 and there was lots of great stuff. He’s not the finished article but I wasn’t expecting that and neither, I hope, was he. I’m pretty sure the thought of how much he’d progressed hadn’t even entered the congregation’s head. They were just glad that one of their guys was up and explaining and applying the Bible to their lives. Dave is one of the launch team at the Underground. And this year he’s on the Cornhill Training Course. And he’ll learn loads at both. He’s getting lots of brilliant biblical input from Nigel Styles and the team at Cornhill. And that will prove invaluable. After all, at the heart of all great church planting is a bible ministry. But what he’s getting at the Underground is experience of what that looks like and what it feels like in practice.
I remain an enthusiast for the church planting placement. In many ways I think it can offer so much more than being at a larger church. Of course, there’s no way that Malcolm will be able to provide Dave with the kind of input that he’s getting at Cornhill. But that’s why God gives us people like Nigel. And there’s no way that Malcolm will be able to give the same kind of input that Dave could get at say, Dundonald under Richard Coekin. But that’s alright because Ministry Traineeships ought to be about on the job training. They’re not about lecturing, or working through a syllabus or even sitting at the feet of the best. They’re about giving it a go, getting our feet wet, making mistakes, learning from them and then having another go. It’s about being in ministry with a more experienced minister and learning a pattern of ministry. They’re about reflecting on what’s happening and why, how we feel about it and what we should do in response. They’re about experiencing close up the joys as well as the frustrations and discouragements of ministry. They’re about learning how others cope with the highs and lows. And church plants provide a brilliant opportunity to do that with a church planter who is so much more than a trainer, a coach or a mentor but a friend. I learnt loads in ministry as an apprentice at what was then a much smaller Dundonald Church. That was over fifteen years ago. But what I learnt from Richard Coekin has stayed with me and shaped me ever since. My view is that we need to send more people into church planting traineeships and plant pregnant.
I guess I ought to say that it’s not inevitable that Dave will become a church planter. But what better training and preparation for the rigours of planting than being a part of a plant?