Church Growth Trust has a deep heart and vision for seeing churches planted and replanted to spread the gospel in the UK. Mindful of the benefits of working with other Christian organisations, they collaborate with Counties and Gospel Literature Outreach (GLO) by supporting them with grant funding and in other practical ways.
Counties CEO Martin Erwin is currently involved with a church replant. The former Henry Street Evangelical Church in Ross-on-Wye is in the process of being relaunched. It is a familiar story of decline and revitalisation, as Martin explains. “There were only 12 members left when the Elders approached Tim Cracknell (who oversees the Counties Church Planting Network) and myself. By July last year, Tim and I were acting as Transitional Elders with Western Counties as the property trustees. We’ve committed some funding to upgrade the building and we’re raising a team to replant under new leadership.”
The new team will be trained as church planters through the M4 (Mission4) process. Martin is clear on the need for partnership in church planting. “We will need to find a strongly resourced church to partner with the new congregation. We deliberately pursue the M4 model for leadership in church plants – any church considering planting requires strong relationships with others. Counties, Partnership and Church Growth Trust all work together to facilitate such relationships.”
Meantime, while Tim works with Martin and James Hyde, a former Counties trustee on the Counties Church Planting Network, he is also a church planter himself, having started Forest Community Church in Cinderford, a former mining town in the Forest of Dean. “I’m in complete agreement with Martin. Strong, collaborative relationships are key. I pastor the church, work part time for Counties and have wonderful connections with Giles Arnold at Church Growth Trust as well as everyone at GLO and Counties. I’m also on the board of Partnership and I’m a trustee at Counties.”
Hemmed in by the Severn on one side and the Wye on the other, Cinderford felt out on a limb. Back in 2005 when the church was planted, there were many social challenges in the town with drugs, unemployment and a sense of isolation. As He always does, however, the Lord had a plan.
“We spent a year preparing the ground then launched in 2006. It’s been exhilarating, exhausting, challenging and sometimes really hard work, but in the 13 years since we opened, it’s become a completely different place. We now work with Christians Against Poverty, foodbank and the local Syrian refugee community.”
Congregations often fear that their numbers and impact will be depleted by sending out a church planting team, but Tim’s experience has been exactly the opposite. “The more people we send out, the more arrive. God is replenishing us – we’re constantly being approached by other churches to help them with church planting.”
James Hyde is one of nine elders at Grosvenor Church Barnstaple. “As a sending church, we were passionate about extending the good news into our region. We were invited into the neighbouring town of Great Torrington by a small group of existing believers where we planted a new church which has really connected with the community.”
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