A New Thing
Time to BUILD
Reaching coastlines and urban estates, 2021’s newest church plants are re-writing the narrative.
WHEN CHURCH PLANTS PLANT CHURCHES
SEA-SIDE TOWNS, CITIES AND ESTATES
How HTB’s more nimble second and third generation plants are transforming parishes at a grassroots level.
WHERE WE ARE
Take a look at our family of churches.
The best Network snapshots of 2021.
REBUILDING THE WALLS
Drawing inspiration from the book of Nehemiah, Archie Coates asks: how are we rebuilding for the future?
Time to Build
We’ve responded to crisis needs, but what comes next? Love Your Neighbour’s Annie Ellis finds out.
REPAIRING MENTAL HEALTH
Dr Chi-Chi Obuaya on why the Church has a key role to play in restoring the mental health of the nation.
LEADING KIDS WORK
Why children need to be front and centre of church life, explains Sarah Jeffery, Kids Pastor at Harbour Church, Portsmouth.
THE YOUTH EDIT
We ask young people: what matters to you?
THE SEX THING
It may be awkward, but Rachel Gardner shares the conversations we need to be having with young people.
Celebrating how gifted young leaders are being equipped for the future.
BACK TO LIFE
How four different buildings are being restored, renovated and made ready for 21st century mission.
Tim Matthews, leader at LOVECHURCH, Bournemouth, reflects on lessons learnt and new opportunities.
CEO of the Church Revitalisation Trust, Sarah Jackson, on our mandate to rebuild.
RESURGAM: WE WILL RISE AGAIN
A vision to help ACCELERATE church
planting across the UK
The Church Revitalisation Trust (CRT) was set up just four years ago – in 2017 – with a vision to help accelerate church planting across the UK and it has been so exciting to see how God has used it since then. In partnership with dioceses throughout the Church of England – and two in Wales – scores of new church planting initiatives have taken place, each with a vision to pioneer new plants of their own. For us, the vision for church planting originated with HTB’s first church plant to St Barnabas, West Kensington, at the invitation of the Bishop of Kensington, in 1985. Then came a plant to St Mark’s, Battersea Rise in neighbouring Southwark diocese in 1987. Others followed in such places as Paddington, Shadwell, Swiss Cottage, Hammersmith and Kentish Town – all at the invitation of the local bishop. It was only in 2009 that we planted our first church outside London when we were invited by the Bishop of Chichester to start a new initiative in St Peter’s, Brighton, which has now itself planted churches in Portsmouth, Hastings, Crawley and Bognor Regis. Each church rebuilt and brought back to life, hosting a thriving Christian community worshipping Jesus, is a practical expression of God’s love. It is wonderful that even in these challenging times, God has continued to provide us with extraordinary opportunities to play our part in the evangelisation of the nation, the revitalisation of the Church and the transformation of society. There is so much more to do. Thank you for your support. Love,
Nicky and Pippa Gumbel Vicar of HTB and Chair of CRT
SAINT Church, Hackney host Creative Conference, RENAISSANCE
God is AT WORK! Welcome to the latest edition of Revitalise, our regular opportunity to celebrate what God is doing across the HTB Network. 03
As ever, this is only a selection of all that is going on – there is much more than we have space for! The theme of this issue is ‘Time to Build’ as many of us get to grips with our current reality of needing to ‘go again’. As churches, we’re needing to reintegrate existing members, welcome new people, and seek to find ways to help heal much of the brokenness and trauma we have seen over the past 18 months with the love of Jesus. These are challenging times indeed, and therefore I find it all the more remarkable and hopeful that we have planted a further 22 churches as a Network over recent months, and the stream of Peter and Caleb ordinands is larger than ever. Read and stay encouraged. Even amid all the 21st-century setbacks and challenges you may be facing, God is at work! Love,
Archie and Sam Coates HTB Network and Vicar of St Peter’s, Brighton
EASIDE TOWNS CITIES & ESTATES
Sea-Side Towns, Cities and Estates 04
Launch service at St Mark’s, Grimbsy
Launch service at St Mark’s, Grimbsy
Reaching coastlines, inner cities and urban estates, 2021’s newest church plants are re-writing the narrative.
‘Even though it’s the largest urban centre in Lincolnshire, you won’t find the ‘luxuries’ of city centres or inland towns here. There are no chain restaurants (other than McDonald’s!), few coffee shops and no cinema. It can almost feel forgotten about, but we know that God has not forgotten Grimsby.’ ‘The greatest need is to get alongside people, listen to their stories and help model healthy relationships and lifestyles. The provision of family life courses, youth and children’s groups and working alongside parents will go some way to help create the change needed. We are excited to play our part in helping Grimsby realise it’s future as people encounter the love of God and we see lives and communities transformed.’
REGENERATING SEASIDE TOWNS
Coastal communities can face particular challenges; often after years of neglect, multiple issues of poverty and isolation can stretch across several generations. However, new planting teams believe regeneration is possible. Grimsby is the location for St Mark’s, Grimsby, a new plant from St Swithin’s, Lincoln and led by Matt Rodgers. Matt describes that while the people of Grimsby are grafting away, they are fairly disconnected from the affluence of the South.
Matt Rodgers, Grimbsy
Sea-Side Towns, Cities and Estates
From the creeping mists of seaside towns to old northern mill-town estates, the locations of the twentytwo new Network churches are varied and diverse in their contexts and missions. Even in the disrupted wake of the pandemic, these churches are on a mission to bring faith in new communities across the UK. We take a bird’s eye view of what's been going on.
St Mark’s, Grimsby
Team at Bay Church, Torbay
“ God has NOT FORGOTTEN Grimsby ”
St John’s, Blackpool Bay Church, Torbay
Andy and Nic Dykes, Blackpool
Matt Bray, Torbay
Blackpool Beach, Blackpool
‘In the history of the UK, mission has gone from the cities, but revival has usually come from the margins’, explains Andy Dykes. ‘The people of Blackpool are enthusiastic for change. They are hungry for the things of God and humble enough to seek Him. They are creative and resourceful and exactly the kind of people Jesus hung around with. Who knows? Maybe God will use the foolish, chaotic, neon, holiday destinations of the world to shame the wise.’ Meanwhile, in Torbay, Matt Bray has planted Bay Church from St Matthias, Plymouth. He shares that the seasonal peaks mean that the pace of life isn’t as consistent as city-centres. ‘We’ve heard some people say, “wait until you see it in the winter”, but we believe God has called us to be here in every season speaking the hope of Jesus into every situation. At Bay Church, Matt hopes that young people, among many others, can find a space to thrive. ‘I asked an 18-year-old who grew up in the area what she thought young people in Torbay need and she said “anything to do”. There is a longing for connection, belonging and purpose among young people here. We know the Church can offer it and we can’t wait to fully open our doors!’.
BLACKPOOL: HUNGRY FOR CHANGE
In another sea-side town, Andy Dykes at newly planted St John’s, Blackpool believes that, despite its challenges (of the ten most deprived neighbourhoods in England, eight are in Blackpool), the people of Blackpool are ready for something new.
Ray is heading up the new Estates Stream on the Accelerator Programme – a stream designed to equip leaders with a calling to serve in areas of particular social deprivation. He explains why different training is needed to plant into estates rather than other church contexts. ‘The way in which we do mission and share the gospel to estate communities needs to be different to how we do mission in a city-centre, and therefore we need a different type of leader with a different skill set for this kind of ministry. One example is that a city-centre resource church usually functions in an ‘attractional’ way. Great events and good services draw people in from quite a long distance away. That then finances, fuels and resources your local ministries in the cities and missions on the estates. So, if you are an ‘attractional’ church, you need to focus on things like social media and branding because that will be critical in drawing people in.
EQUIPPING ESTATE CHURCHES
Sea-Side Towns, Cities and Estates
Among this year’s plants into local estates are Woven St Martha’s, Nottingham, led by Peter Huxtable and St John’s, Gosport, planted by Christ Church, Gosport, led by Ray Driscoll.
Ray Driscoll, Gosport
But for estate churches, it’s not the same. An estate leader doesn’t need to know about branding, but will need to know about schools, about the benefits system and about advocacy; you’ll need to be more collaborative in the way you shape your ministry. Planting an estate church is radically different to what works in a city and therefore the type of leader needs a different skill set and a different outlook and approach.’
St Martha’s, Nottingham St John’s, Gosport
Ray Driscoll, launch of St John’s, Gosport
Launch of The Well, Swindon
Lydia Corbett, Nottingham
THE WOVEN NETWORK AND URBAN PRIORITY AREAS
St Aiden’s St Martin’s St Leo’s
Since 2018, when, at the invitation of the Bishop of Nottingham, Rich and Lizzie Atkinson moved from HTB to plant into St Margaret’s, Aspley, they have multiplied six times. The Woven network of churches is seeking to renew and revitalise churches across north-west Nottingham and to ‘pursue and proclaim real and eternal life in these communities'. Their churches include St Aiden’s (led by Jo Harley), St Martin’s (led by Denise Watkins and Jess Savill) and St Leo’s (led by Lydia Corbett). St Leo’s in Basford – an inner-city urban priority area a couple of miles outside of Nottingham city centre – had dwindled in number and closed. In March 2020, it was reopened with a vision to be a church for the people of Basford, a practical beacon of gospel hope in the area. Leader Lydia Corbett explains that some of the biggest challenges relate to poverty and the complexities of people’s lives in an urban priority area, but the church is really positioned to be the heart of the community. ‘We are excited about building a community made up of every tribe and tongue. When I have a bunch of people who have never heard the gospel squeezed into my living room for Alpha, I often wonder if this is what it must have been like in Acts! It’s very grassroots, but I’m so excited to see where we’ll be in five years’ time.’
Welcome team at Christ Church, Gosport
And what are the biggest challenges for young people in the North-West? Rachel explains, ‘I had a wake-up call about how oppressive poverty is. It is brutal for a young person to grow up with certain narratives spoken over them and their community about what they’ll do and achieve. We want to blow those narratives out of the water and help them to understand their potential and what it means to be made in the image of God who flung stars into space. These young people have one wild and very precious life and we want to help them to understand that.’
REACHING THE EMERGING GENERATION IN BLACKBURN
Although the focus of the mission of the church is to reach 8—25-year-olds, Jason and Rachel have found the inherited congregation on the estate have fully caught the vision to help disciple young people. Their vision at St Luke’s is to create a space of deep encounter with Jesus. Rachel explains, ‘The emerging generations have grown up in a secular age which has told them, “There is no God, and even if there is, he doesn’t make any difference to your life.” We say, “That’s not true and he makes all the difference in your life.” At the beating heart of what we will be doing is creating spaces for young people to encounter the love and power of Jesus.
Jason and Rachel Gardner, Blackburn
Sea-Side Towns, Cities and Estates
When asked if they would consider re-invigorating an existing congregation at St Luke’s, Blackburn, Jason and Rachel Gardner said yes! The vision is to plant a youth resourcing church into Blackburn that would both serve the mission of Blackburn to see more young people choosing to following Jesus but would also act as a resourcing hub for the East Lancashire corridor.
St Luke’s, Blackburn
“ We’re creating spaces for young people to ENCOUNTER the love and power of Jesus
‘Puberty is such a precious time in the life of a young person’, continues Rachel Gardner. ‘Traditionally the church can pull away in this moment of transition when a gorgeous young child morphs into this difficult, rebellious teenager who pushes all the boundaries and breaks all the rules. The Holy Spirit has watched over the adolescent development of billions and billions and billions of young people. He is not afraid of it. What they need is a rich, loving community around them who will hold the space for them. The church can be a community that reflects to them their loveliness, their strength, their value, their worth and their resilience. The family of God can create around them a support network that would see them through that important process – that is the church at its best. Loving Jesus and loving each other. It can be a great privilege to walk alongside these young people, and ask the Holy Spirit, ‘who have you made this young person to be?’ We want to encourage Christian parents and youth workers not to pull back because of fear about talking about some of the difficult things – about sexuality and relationships, but to hold steady and to listen well. How do we allow them to explore what God is saying to them and what it means for them to follow God right now? When we do that, the whole church is enriched'.
Summer hangout at St Luke’s, Blackburn
LET’S EMBRACE THE AWKWARD ADOLESCENT YEARS
CROSS TRADITIONS, SITE PLANTS AND PARTNERSHIPS
Sea-Side Towns, Cities and Estates
Quin and Maleni Delport, Hollingdean
As the locations of these new churches are increasingly diverse, so are the models of planting that are evolving. Among these are the emergence of ‘site plants’: a resource church shares its PCC, finances and central resources with a smaller church, which enables the smaller community to continue to focus its mission on a specific community. These site plants can also be led by lay-leaders, as is the case with Quin and Maleni Delport, the HTB Network’s first non-ordained site leaders at St Richard’s, Hollingdean – a site plant of St Matthias, Fiveways (itself a plant from St Peter’s, Brighton in 2017). While St Swithin’s, Lincoln have planted in Grimsby, they have also partnered with St Faith’s, Lincoln to help support the existing congregation. Jim Prestwood, now Priest-in-Charge at St Faith’s, describes the richness of partnering with different traditions. ‘St Faith’s has a more traditional style of worship to St Swithin’s,’ explains Jim, ‘but working together to discuss how we can bring some of our values into St Faith’s whilst maintaining the integrity of the style of worship has been a rich conversation. We don’t want to replicate the same style of services, but we hope our partnership will increase the potential for invitation where people can feel at home in a specific congregation whilst feeling a part of a bigger family too.’
St Luke’s, Earl’s Court
Being a site plant of a bigger resource church also means they can more fully focus on the needs on their doorstep, as Dave and Sophie Matthews have discovered, a new site plant of HTB at St Luke’s, Earl’s Court. Within a brief time of joining the St Luke’s team, Dave found himself heading up a response to the refugee crisis, only made possible with the support and resources of a wider team.
‘We spent a lot of time speaking to local leaders and charities to see how we might be able to help with supporting the community and in doing so we met a local counsellor looking for help to host a clothes distribution for asylum seekers and refugees. She told us that 10 of the surrounding hotels within walking distance of the church had over 2,000 men, women and children seeking refuge and in desperate need. In partnership with the local council, we were able to use the church to hold several events to distribute clothes, toiletries and food to help over 1,000 people.’ ‘After the first few events we realised that alongside the need for clothes and toiletries, there was a longing among the refugees and asylum seekers for community and the opportunity to learn English. With that in mind, we have launched a weekly gathering where guests can enjoy a meal, take part in an English class and pick up some clothes as they leave.’
RESPONDING TO THE REFUGEE CRISIS
HTB St Luke’s, Redcliffe Gardens
Launch service at St Leonard’s, Hove
St Richard’s, Hollingdean St Faith’s, Lincoln
Dave and Sophie Matthews, Earl’s Court
OLD BUILDINGS, NEW CHAPTERS
Sea-Side Towns, Cities and Estates
Si Nicholls, West Ham
The re-launch of SAINT – West Ham at the beginning of October, part of the SAINT family of churches (planted by Al Gordon from HTB in 2016) was a profound moment. Leader Si Nicholls – a member of last year’s Accelerator Programme – reflects on the power of building on what has come before... ‘All Saints, West Ham has been here for 891 years. 891years ago someone sensed the call of God on their lives and started a worshipping community. For 891 years communities of people have been joining together to worship Jesus, to share food and friendship, to read the Bible together, to pray, to enact the love of God into the poorest areas, to prophetically love out Jesus’ call to the last, the least and the lost. For 891 years, people have gathered here together, seeking Jesus.’ As these new church plants and partnerships stand on the heritage of years of faithful service, we pray that God will use them powerfully in the years ahead, to play their part in the evangelisation of the nation, the revitalisation of the Church and transformation of society. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
SAINT, West Ham
SAINT, West Ham
CELEBRATING 22 NEW CHURCH PLANTS AND PARTNERSHIPS IN 2021 ST WIN’S, TOTTON Ali Hill, (planted by Saint Mary’s, Southampton) ST LUKE’S, BLACKBURN Jason
and Rachel Gardner, (planted by Preston Minster) ST JOHN’S, BLACKPOOL Andy Dykes, (planted by HTB) ST MARK’S, GRIMSBY Matt Rodgers, (planted by St Swithin’s Lincoln) ST FAITH’S, LINCOLN Jim Prestwood (site plant of St Swithin’s, Lincoln) ST LEONARD’S, HOVE Ali Marshall (planted by St Peter’s, Brighton) ST RICHARD’S, HOLLINGDEAN Quin and Maleni Delport (site plant of St Matthias, Fiveways) BAY CHURCH (ST ANDREW’S), TORBAY Matt Bray (planted by St Matthias, Plymouth) SAINT, WEST HAM Si Nicholls, (site plant of SAINT) SAINT MARY’S, CARLTON ROAD Jon Finch, (site plant from Saint Mary’s, Southampton) ST LEO’S, NOTTINGHAM Lydia Corbett, (planted by Woven, St Margaret’s) ST MARTHA’S, NOTTINGHAM Peter Huxtable, (planted by Woven, St Margaret’s) ST AIDAN’S, NOTTINGHAM Jo Harley, (planted by Woven, St Margaret’s) ST PETER’S, COVENTRY Matt Spina, (site plant of St Mark’s, Coventry) RIVER CHURCH, IPSWICH Matt and Amy Key, (plant from St Augustine’s, Ipswich) THE WELL, SWINDON Paul Freeland, (plant from Pattern Church, Swindon) ST MARTIN’S, NOTTINGHAM Denise Watkins, (site plant from Woven, St Margaret’s) ST LUKE’S, EARLS COURT Dave Matthews, (site plant from HTB) CHRIST CHURCH, GOSPORT Ray Driscoll (town plant of Harbour Church, Portsmouth) ST JOHN’S, GOSPORT Ray Driscoll, (estate site plant of Christ Church, Gosport) ALIVE CHURCH, THE CHAPEL, GATESHEAD Rich Grant, (site plant of Alive Church, Gateshead) CITIZEN CHURCH, CAERPHILLY CAMPUS, CARDIFF Ryan Forey, (site plant of Citizen Church, Cardiff)
A YearWhere in Numbers we are
new churches, with a passion to bring hope
young leaders on the Peter Stream path, extending the reach of the church
people on the Caleb Stream, pioneering effective rural ministries
2021: A YEAR IN NUMBERS meals being delivered monthly to people struggling with food poverty
estate planters being equipped to serve in areas of acute deprivation
leaders on the Accelerator Programme, being trained for church planting
churches in our network serving cities and communities around the UK
St Alban’s, Copnor enjoy a family service
Different traditions can co-exist in the same building
WHEN CHURCH PLANTS PLANT CHURCHES
Listening to the communities Many of the leaders took a significant time (from 6—18 months) to observe the parish
Through the process of listening, a variety of ministries blossomed, each shaped by their context. Some examples included volunteering at boxing clubs, parent and toddler groups, employment coaching, and the foodbanks which have been a lifeline for so many especially during the pandemic. St Martin’s, Bilborough (Woven Church) have started a weekly community café. Generosity in one context was embodied by free nappies in the changing area in the church.
Simple worship Some of the churches had brought in the positive values in their local culture (communal sharing, honouring the older generation) to be reflected in their new forms of worship. At SAINT Matt’s, Canning Town there are worship activities, simple liturgies and 10-minute interactive sermons with an emphasis on discipleship. These services have flourished in contexts with low spiritual confidence and low literacy levels, and local leaders have been encouraged. Churches like these are often small, which is one of their strengths. They build strong communities that can transform their parishes at a grassroots level. As these new ecclesial communities see where the wind of the Spirit is moving, they have breathed new life into their parishes – and Victorian church buildings.
Jono Simpson on how HTB’s more nimble second and third-generation plants are transforming parishes at a grassroots level.
Almost all the churches either maintained or enriched the Anglo-Catholic forms of worship. Heather Atkinson spoke of doing a ‘cross-tradition’ plant at St Peter’s, Bethnal Green, restoring an organist and choir. SAINT Church in East London introduced choral scholarships and robed choirs, while St Clement’s, Boscombe (LOVECHURCH) introduced sung Eucharists. Often these services backed onto new contemporary services allowing integration between the two congregations.
Many of the church plants were in parishes that had deprivation. The plants were often into churches that had dwindling congregations that wanted young people in church but had struggled to draw them in. Many of the churches had Anglo-Catholic forms of worship. What I found inspired me and gives me hope for the future of the Church of England.
contexts before bringing in changes. At St Alban’s, Copnor (Harbour Church, Portsmouth) they spent 18 months ‘getting to know the community to see who were the latent group of people who might form a new congregation.’ As a result, trust was built and positive changes were brought in through consultation and a shared vision. A stronger community was the result of leaders spending longer to listen.
When Church Plants Plant Churches
The 2013 report by Cathy Ross and David Dadswell on church planting in the Church of England reported that most HTB church plants in the study naturally reflected their sending church: running Alpha, emphasis on charismatic evangelical forms of worship, and reaching middle-class people. These are growing churches drawing people in who would otherwise not be in church. But that is not the full picture. The report mentioned an Area Dean saying ‘second-generation HTB plants are much more local and contextual.’ I was intrigued to find out how these plants are contextualised and interviewed a range of second and third-generation HTB church plant leaders to find out more.
SM Top row, left to right 1. St Nicholas, Bristol celebrate at their alternative graduation party for Students 2. Christ Church, Gosport launch Church Planting
their Family service 3. St Mary’s, Andover enjoy Easter resurrection pancakes 4. Holy Trinity, Clapham gather after the evening service
Middle row, left to right 1. LOVECHURCH pack boxes of food for their local community as part of Love Your Neighbour 2. St Peters, Bethnal Green successfully launch their Community Climbing Club 3. Saint Mary’s, Southampton launch a new service on Carlton Road 4. Saint Wilfrid, Bognor celebrate a member’s 100th birthday Bottom row, left to right 1. Kids Ministry at St Jax, Montreal 2. Gas Street, Birmingham and Trinity, Nottingham host Women’s Conference, The Orchard 3. The first Peter Stream candidates are ordained 4. RENAISSANCE Conference at SAINT, Hackney
ILE Let’s take a look at some of the memories you’ve made this year...
Top row, left to right 1. St Mark’s, Battersea Rise enjoy Focus at Home 2. Pattern Church, Swindon prepare food parcels for their local Church Planting
community as part of Love Your Neighbour 3. River Church, Ipswich launch their sunday service 4. St Peter’s, Brighton celebrate the Africa House Middle, left to right 1. St Matt’s, Exeter enjoy a Sweet Party, an alternative to Halloween 2. Alive Church, Gateshead celebrate their 5th birthday party 3. Holy Trinity, Hastings runners celebrate the running club’s 4th birthday 4. Holy Trinity, Bukit Bintang celebrate the ordination of their new curates Bottom row, left to right 1. Congregation at St Mark’s, Grimbsy 2. St Thomas’, Norwich welcome customers to their café 3. Renewal Church, Nairobi celebrate their 3rd birthday 4. Confirmation service at HTB
Rebuilding the Walls Time to Build
As another year rolls around, still aching from the disruption of the pandemic, Archie Coates, vicar of St Peter’s, Brighton draws inspiration from the book of Nehemiah and asks: how are we rebuilding for the future?
Then it struck me: God is a God of history and destiny; he does not go round in circles but is always moving forward. So as we think about Rebuilding, it’s not about trying to get back to some prior point (the only thing we should continually be drawn back to is our first love for Jesus and the wonder of the Cross). Rebuilding is paradoxically about discerning the new or next thing that God is doing as his Kingdom continually advances.
The Old Testament book of Nehemiah tells the story of how God’s people went about the job of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. For us, it is a helpful model as to how we approach our task of building back up. I notice the following:
Before Nehemiah can get to work, he must reflect on the recent past and current situation. He is honest about what’s gone wrong, he makes a realistic assessment of how things stand (ch 1). If we’re going to rebuild on firm foundations, it starts with processing these past 18 months: what has God been trying to teach us? What do we feel we’ve got right, what do we regret? God disciples us (grows us into maturity) through life events and what we learn through them.
As he starts the work of rebuilding, Nehemiah draws together a team, who share his same passion (chapters 2—3). Everyone plays their part according to their particular abilities. Who is the new – or newly-commissioned – team you need around you in this season? I notice a lot of Nehemiah’s time and attention went into picking a team, motivating them, organising them, and encouraging them.
2. Passion This is heart work, not simply a project. The motivation, hard work, and endurance in the face of setbacks that will be necessary for the rebuilding are energised by the anguish and passion in Nehemiah’s heart. He cares about God’s reputation in his homeland, and his actions are birthed in sorrow for the past and confident hope (ch 1).
5. Perseverance Nehemiah faces opposition to his rebuilding project (chapter 4+6). But he does not give up. He remains focused on what God has asked him to do. He gives us a great model for what to do when we face a spiritual battle, which is basically ‘Keep saying your prayers and don’t give up!’.
3. Prayer Nehemiah prays before he does anything else (ch 1) and then he keeps on praying while he’s working. When you contemplate the rebuilding work in front of you, how – and how much – are you planning to pray?
WALLS Finally, do a quick search for the little word ‘but’, which crops up frequently through the book of Nehemiah. It often signals a spanner in the works, or a turn of events, or a change of direction – and the need on the part of Nehemiah to respond, or as we have come to know it in this season, to ‘pivot’. And sometimes it is used to convey fresh determination, a godly ‘digging in’. This quality, to be able to hold tightly to a vision God has given us while also meeting the circumstances in front of us, which are mostly out of our control, is going to be key for us in the rebuilding phase. And so my favourite ‘but’ is the one that comes in chapter 6: ‘But I prayed, ‘Now strengthen my hands’ (v9).
Time to Build
One thing I’m learning through the pandemic is to shift the emphasis of my approach from Church being something I have to ‘make happen’, to Church being God’s movement in the world, which I get to join in with. This eases the pressure as I contemplate the rebuilding that’s required in the next season: we are required simply to walk closely and humbly with Jesus, watch for his working and guidance, and be brave enough to step out in the ways we believe he is calling us, in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Rebuilding the Walls
As lockdown restrictions began to ease again in the Spring, I found myself scrambling to get everything back up and running again – Sunday services, staff structures, ministries inperson as well as online. I felt I was running hard just to get back to where we were as a church pre-pandemic.
Compassionate Communities 20
C O M P A S S
St John’s, Crawley receive recognition by the Crawley Community Awards 2021
Time to Build
In response to the pandemic, churches across the country have served their neighbourhoods in remarkable and innovative ways. But what comes next, and what does it mean to support the most vulnerable beyond crisis provision? Annie Ellis, Senior Project Manager at Love Your Neighbour, finds out how Network churches are rebuilding their communities.
Resurgo’s Re-Work course aims to help people back into employment
As Love Your Neighbour continues to grow, many churches are shifting their focus to help not only with urgent crisis needs but also to provide debt advice, employment training and the wrap-around support of a community. Let’s see a glimpse of what they’re up to.
Rebuilding lives Helping people out of crisis in a sustainable way requires a personal and holistic approach, which is what Tina Bayliss and the volunteers at St Matthias, Plymouth have been doing. Laying the foundations for whole-life transformation, they’ve been meeting 1-1 with each of their food hub clients, to determine what provision will help them move forward, sign-posting to partner organisations such as addiction services, employment training and debt advice services where needed.
is an alliance of churches and other organisations joined together on a mission to support those most in need in our communities and to play our part in the transformation of society.
S I O N A T E
Similarly, in Manchester last year, !Audacious Church met Clara who was struggling to find work due to Covid-19 and her language barriers. She completed the Re-Work course online and then joined a language school at !Audacious. Clara found friendship through these programmes and at Christmas she came daily to pack Love Christmas boxes. Finally, at the beginning of 2021, she received a job offer as a Vaccination Support Officer, and since then she has continued volunteering, assisting on the Re-Work programme and helping others on a similar journey toward employment. As Tim Keller writes ‘a real encounter with grace will make us just’, and as each of us offer that hand of grace to others, we see a ripple effect of grace and justice flowing out from others too. Time to Build
WE’RE PARTNERING WITH OVER 2,200 CHURCHES AND OTHER ORGANISATIONS
Re-building with the power of God
Everyone has a valuable part to play in re-building communities – which is churches up and down the country joining together for Love Christmas 2021 to deliver a million Bags of Kindness. Last Christmas, 38,000 volunteers from across the country got involved in packing and delivering gifts to their communities. Many of those volunteers were already part of the church, but many others were invited to join in and play their part by Christian neighbours or colleagues.
We are so inspired by the many volunteers and staff, prayers and givers, who support this work across the UK. It isn’t always easy: caring for the most vulnerable in our society requires sacrifice, commitment and tenacity. Re-building doesn’t happen in a day, so as we step out into this next season, let’s allow ourselves to be fuelled by the Spirit of God. We can plant and water a seed, but only God can make it grow. In this unexpected season, we’re seeing a glimpse of what Jesus meant when he said that a town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Like the town on the hill, when we see lives restored and communities transformed, we can’t help but see the power of God at work, his light shining brighter over our nation.
In Crawley, Love Your Neighbour activities have been a close collaboration between Anglican churches, Pentecostal churches, New Frontiers, the local council and the YMCA amongst others: their ongoing investment in the people of Crawley has just been recognised as a remarkable contribution by the Crawley Community Awards 2021.
Re-Work at St Paul’s, Hammersmith
Compassionate Communities 22
8,800 PEOPLE SUPPORTED WITH DEBT ADVICE
Time to Build
Everyone playing their part means individuals and communities joining together, from across the breadth of the Church and from outside the Church, in partnership with businesses, charities, and Government.
Watch our interview with Annie Ellis at crtrust.org
Food deliveries at Gas Street, Birmingham
Many churches have been involving local businesses in their Love Your Neighbour activity, and when Soul Church, Norwich wanted to include fresh poultry in some food packs they were preparing, they approached a local butcher, who unexpectedly offered 800 fresh, whole chickens to be included in their packs – for free!
Gas Street, Birmingham
TOGETHER WE’RE DELIVERING OVER 1,000,000 MEALS A MONTH
10,700 PEOPLE SUPPORTED WITH EMPLOYMENT TRAINING
Time to Build
Repairing Mental Health 24
Rebuilding the MENTAL HEALTH of the nation
Time to Build
While the Church should not attempt to replicate the provision of mainstream mental health services, Dr Chi-Chi Obuaya, a Consultant Psychiatrist and a Director of the Mind & Soul Foundation, explains that there is plenty it can do to raise awareness of the issues at hand and to show compassion and hope to those who are struggling.
Repairing Mental Health
“ The opportunity for the Church is to offer an unparalleled and authentic community experience, no matter what difficulties they are going through in their mental health. ” The range of mental health hurdles facing society in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic has been well documented since we entered the first lockdown in March 2020.
The pandemic has affected people of all ages, from adolescents deprived of their normal social networks to university students underwhelmed by isolation from their peers, parents struggling with home-schooling young children, and elderly members of society cut off from their family and friends. Some previously healthy people contracted Covid-19 and then experienced ‘Long Covid’, which can include psychiatric symptoms such as a low mood. Many people have experienced grief of some description, with the loss of loved ones, employment, and opportunities.
Dr. Chi-Chi Obuaya
People who struggle to access the technology needed to operate in society – including accessing their GPs and mental health professionals – may be left on the margins. Wellestablished services, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, have struggled to cope with the demand of people struggling with misuse of drink and recreational drugs, which some have turned to under pressure to manage their anxiety.
The Church cannot be expected to and should not attempt to replicate the provisions of mainstream mental health services, but there is plenty it can do. For starters, it can play a role in de-stigmatising mental health problems by raising awareness of the issues at hand, demonstrating compassion for those affected, and offering hope to those struggling. It is the Church that can offer a unique perspective to help people navigate a distressing and confusing time, healing to the broken-hearted and kindness to the lost and forgotten members of society. I recently listened to a podcast which asserted: ‘the workplace is the last bastion of community in a world where we can work, order food, and date online without stepping out of their homes’. This should serve as a wake-up call for the Church to rise and assume a position of leadership, in the same way it responded to the food poverty challenge of 2020. The opportunity for the Church is to offer an unparalleled and authentic community experience, one in which people feel loved and valued no matter what difficulties they are going through in their mental health. This would go a long way to helping us turn the tide.
Watch our interview with Dr. Chi-Chi Obuaya at crtrust.org
Time to Build
In addition to the multitude of individual struggles people have encountered, there has been a sense of collective trauma, with society forced to reflect on major issues – including racism, sexism, and social injustice to name but a few – in
Key overarching themes include the breakdown of our social networks, which usually help us to overcome areas of challenge in our lives, and the loss of community at a time when many people have endured increased stress and disruption to their lives.
The Office for National Statistics data showed that self-reporting of depressive symptoms went up in the Spring and Summer of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019, with reports highlighting the relatively high rate of antidepressant prescribing, coupled with reduced access to NHS psychological therapy services owing to soaring demand.
an increasingly divisive and emotionally charged socio-political landscape.
!Audacious Church, Manchester
Just prior to the pandemic, with a growing desire to have a greater impact upon the mental health of our city and beyond, we devised the faith-based and psychologically informed !Audacious Well-Being Course. The course aims to equip every person to thrive by upskilling them with tools to navigate their personal challenges. We are currently running our fourth course online. The sessions offer a small therapeutic group experience to discuss the teaching topics; having a healthy body, healthy mood and confidence, healthy emotional processing of loss and trauma, healthy thinking and culminating in a personal well-being plan. There are also times for encountering the presence of God through worship and prayer. Our future vision is to develop a Well-Being Centre where we will offer services to both the church and the community.
ART CAFÉ AND COMMUNITY SHOP
St Werburgh’s, Derby
Time to Build
We have a café that hosts several activity classes and gatherings: The café activities contain art and craft to help people express themselves, and open up a bit as they’re creating. We are also looking to introduce life skills training – employability coaches, counselling sessions, cooking demos, budgeting help and we will be looking to run an Alpha course through there once we have enough regular attendees. We are currently working with Derby City Mission and Derby Food 4 Thought Alliance (DF4T) and have just opened a community shop opposite the café where families who are experiencing food poverty can attend and fill their shopping baskets with at least £30 worth of goods.
MENTAL WELL-BEING SESSIONS
St Paul’s, Hounslow West St Paul’s, Hounslow ran weekly sessions in response to so many people expressing struggle with their mental health. Claire Clarke, vicar at St Paul’s said: ‘This was exacerbated by lockdown and we had a couple of suicide attempts on church grounds. The sessions provided a safe place for guests – both from within the church and the community – to journey together to understand more about mental health.’ Educational talks were given by a Mental Health First Aider. A vicar also spoke on the subject ‘A Christian response to mental health.’ Guests received self-care packages (inside included journals, candles etc) to encourage moments of calm.
KINTSUGI WELL-BEING GROUPS
St Mary’s, Andover The Lighthouse Social Action Hub at St Mary’s, Andover started running Kintsugi Hope Well-being Groups this Spring in three locations: online, in a local college and a local secondary school. This Autumn, we launched five new groups – including four face-to-face youth wellbeing groups which are six weeks long in a local college and the fifth group for adults taking place online over 12 weeks. Kintsugi Hope well-being groups can help empower, equip, and enable people to work through their emotional, social, and mental health challenges in a constructive way, via the support of community, love, and acceptance. Creating space in these busy and challenging times to do this, can help rebuild our communities and create stepping-stones to brighter, more hopefilled lives.
Lucy, from St Nicholas, Bristol partners with local charities to teach gardening skills to vulnerable members of the community.
Repairing Mental Health
How the Church is RESPONDING to the mental health crisis
Repairing Mental Health 27
“ The Church can offer a unique perspective to help people navigate distressing and confusing times, healing to the broken-hearted and kindness to the lost and forgotten members of society. Time to Build
Artists ofWhere the Network we are 28
S T S I T AR E H T F O O W T NE
Emerging Generation The HTB Network
1 A round-up of some of the Network’s most talented artists and their music in 2021.
4. ELLE LIMEBEAR
All the Time (Fez Remix)/ Single, 2021
Gas Street Music is the worship community at Gas Street in Birmingham. Hope you enjoy 'REWILDING', Gas Street Music’s debut EP! They’ve also recently released a single 'Return to You'.
No Longer There/ Single, 2021
5. GUVNA B
SAINTS music is created by Saint Mary’s, Southampton. 'No Longer There' is their latest single, which emotively talks about freedom given through Jesus’ sacrifice and his resurrection.
3. CALLEDOUT MUSIC
Come Home/EP, 2021 Samuel ‘CalledOut Music’ Nwachukwu is a MOBO awardwinning music producer, singer/songwriter & multiinstrumentalist. 'Come Home' is one of his latest releases along with 'Never Leave Me', 'Roots', 'Shout to the Lord' and 'Say So'.
Everywhere + Nowhere (Black Edition Deluxe)/ Album, 2021 A double MOBO awardwinning rapper Guvna B’s 'Everywhere + Nowhere' (Black Edition Deluxe) includes amazing new songs such as 'Peace of God', 'Watching over Us' and 'Fall on Me – JimmyJames Remix'.
6. WORSHIP FOR EVERYONE
Out of the Water/ Single, 2021 Worship for Everyone was founded by Nick & Becky Drake in 2010, who are part of Gas Street in Birmingham. 'Out of the Water', one of the newest singles along with 'Masterplan' and 'The Rock' (Feat. Tim Hughes) makes you tap on the floor as you listen to it!
K R O
2. SAINTS MUSIC
Elle Limebear, a worship leader at St Peter’s, Brighton, has released a Single Remix of 'All the Time' – one of the songs from her Album 'Lost in Wonder' in 2020. The remix version brings a nice chill vibe to the song.
Where are Network Artists we of the
1. GAS STREET MUSIC
Need You/Single, 2021 Caz is a talented musician at SAINT in London. She’s recently released a single 'Need You', along with 'All You Do' and 'Overflow'. Check her out on music streaming services!
7 The HTB Network Emerging Generation
Leading Kids Work
LEADING KIDS WORK The number of children in church has been falling steadily for years, but we have a fresh opportunity to put children’s needs at the centre of our church life, explains Sarah Jeffery, Kids Pastor at Harbour Church, Portsmouth. NO TEAM? NO KIDS WORK...
Alex Blythe, Rising Generation Pastor at St Paul’s, Hammersmith on how to rebuild your Kids team post-Covid. Things have changed since Covid. Before the pandemic, we had committed, regularly serving people who were happy to be on a rota and serve the kids. Now it can be difficult to encourage people back to serving on a team, but it’s time to rebuild. There are a few angles we need to be aware of when rebuilding. Firstly, have people forgotten ‘the why’? Have they lost the vision for what we are trying to build through the kids’ ministry? If so, we need to remind people of the vision or get a new one that will rally people to the cause. Secondly, although the team without children may have lost the vision, the parents have not. I believe through the pandemic parents have realised a further need for supporting their children to have a real and flourishing faith. More than ever, the church needs to partner with parents to help the children grow up with a relationship with God. Parents have seen the need first hand and we need to open the door to partner together.
Finally, expectations need to change. We need to build in a new way, which may mean having new expectations on your team. Volunteers need the freedom to serve when they would like and to choose their involvement. This needs to be out of the desires of their heart rather than feeling compelled to serve because there is no one else to, or because they have a child. With a clear vision, parent partnership and healthy, clear expectations, we will rebuild teams that are strong and fruitful and sow into kids’ lives in a way the church has never seen before.
Covid-19 didn’t provide smooth sailing for anyone and almost overnight, the job description of a Kids Pastor expanded to include the unexpected element of becoming Kids TV content creators, video editors, and Zoom tech support staff. As Kids’ ministry moved online to weekly Zoom calls or YouTube series, the discipleship of children relied on families taking on the role of Kids Pastor, alongside trying to balance homeschooling, working from home, and all the other uncertainty that the pandemic brought. Yet, in the face of all these obstacles, across the Network, we have seen God continue to move. As churches have adapted to the online world, we’ve been able to engage with more children than ever before. But, the number of children attending church has been falling for years before the pandemic and the decline amongst those under 16 attending church is much faster than the decline in other generations. So that leaves us with the important question – how can we re-engage children to be back engaging in church? This isn’t just a question for the parents or kids team, this should be a priority for the entire church. I believe that the pandemic has taught us three things we can take away from this:
Leading Kids Work
Be Creative Continue to think outside of the box! We’ve seen churches across the Network challenge themselves to learn new skills and completely change how we do kids ministry. It has been such fun to see the ingenuity of the leaders and the engagement of children in diversifying the way that we can learn, teach, and worship together throughout lockdown! This should continue post-lockdown to help grow our ministry.
the power and importance of children. Kids ministry is often seen as a babysitting service while parents enjoy the service, but it is so much more than this. Kids are being taught that there is a God who loves them unconditionally, and as they are growing up and learning how to see the world, they are building their foundation on a God who will never fail them. Let’s come out of the pandemic with a renewed perspective on the importance of kids knowing their value in the Church.
Get Involved Ask yourself: how can I make sure that children know that they are seen, valued, and championed today? The pandemic showed us that although we sometimes feel powerless and unable to help, we can support one another in many ways. You may not be able to volunteer for your church’s kids team, but think about how else you can encourage them?
• Church attendance in under 16s was declining at nearly twice the pace of adults. • Only 6.4% of churches had 25 or more under 16s attending. • 68% of churches reported having less than five children attending.
If we invest in these areas, we are going to see a generation of world changers rise up from the kids’ groups from around the country. They are the future generation of the Church, so let’s prioritise them before they become the missing generation of the Church.
The Youth Edit 32
g people use Tiktok as a ke place of insp y iration and le arning.
87% of 16—25 s pay attentio n to a brand’ ethics when s they purchase from them.
The HTB Network
*Stats from Th
e Story, publish
ed by Youthsca
61% of youn
s believe the pandemic w a long-term ill have impact on th eir mental he alth.
s identified as
67% of 16—24
Rise of the g
26% of 16—24
Young people have been hit hard by the pandemic in a myriad of ways – from the impact on mental health to loss of key milestones, education and social interaction. As we consider rebuilding, we asked a handful of young people: what matters to you?
Connection: ‘We need IRL* not Zoom’ Even for this digitally indigenous generation, nothing matches meeting in person. They expressed that as the pandemic made it harder to engage with others, coming out of it also feels like ‘no man’s land’. Adjusting to seeing people again in person is different and even knowing what events are happening is difficult.
*IRL = ‘in real life’, translated for those who need it!
Communication: ‘Speak with me, not to me’ Two girls had started a youth-led Bible study during lockdown which happened every week with a group of friends online. They expressed that it was much easier to be open in a peer-led environment as sometimes when an adult leads the study, it feels forced and more difficult to open up.
In youth-led forums, it is easier to relate to everyone without any sense of judgement. When asked about how they prefer youth leaders or older people to connect with them, they shared that they like open discussions, rather than having something led with one person at the front or on a stage as in that atmosphere they can start to feel inferior or that their voices aren’t as important as the older ones.
Mentors: ‘Show interest in me’ Having a mentor is important; someone they can approach for advice on difficult decisions, or someone they trust who can ask them questions and is interested in knowing them.
They expressed a longing for more youth events and get-away trips together; facilitating environments for them to spend time, grow in their faith together and talk about the loneliness or struggles they have is key.
The Youth Edit
One young person explained that she felt she had nothing in common with her mentor so had been hesitant to meet at first, but later realised that they were willing to engage in whatever she was interested in. The first time they met, she had discussed something that her mentor hadn’t known much about and the next time they met, they had researched it and were able to chat with her over a common interest which she said had made her feel special and safe with them.
The HTB Network Emerging Generation
THE SEX T
THE SEX L
D I S AVA
Isn’t it funny how sex is often called ‘it’? ‘Have you done it yet?’ ‘At what age should I start talking about it to my kids?’ ‘Does God get angry if I do it with someone I’m not married to, even if I love them?’ Sex as a thing, something we cannot or don’t want to give a name to. Even the word ‘sex’
sex, we need to. The way we talk about sex and hear sex talked about informs what we think about sex. And what we think about sex informs how we behave when it comes to sex. So ‘it’ matters... I remember visiting a sexual health clinic with two teenage girls. Their story was heartbreaking. One of them had ‘lost my virginity and my tights’ at a party the week before because she was ‘sick of being the only girl in Year 10 who was still a virgin’. Can you imagine that pressure? Being the ‘only one’? ‘How did that feel, thinking you were the only virgin in your year?’ I asked. ‘Horrible. I didn’t want to be that girl who hasn’t had sex.’
wasn’t true. I vowed in that moment to spend my life encouraging young people to ask questions, to challenge the status quo and to think for themselves so that they could act for themselves and as themselves: beloved, purposed, empowered, free human beings. That was many years ago, in the days before Snapchat, WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and online porn. Before the dip in teen pregnancy rates. Before society had fully woken up to the crisis in young people’s mental health. Before groups like Fight the New Drug and Naked Truth were using an evidence-based approach to show how accessing online porn rewires the adolescent
people in our churches in conversations about sex. We’re increasingly aware of the role the church has played historically in sidelining sexual minorities, so many of us are united in our desire to avoid presenting a damaging narrative to an emerging generation who quite simply don’t really get where the Church is coming from on these topics. If it’s silencing our voice in young people’s lives in our church communities, how much more ill-equipped are we feeling about engaging young people in the wider community? Might this be why leading Christian organisations are seeing fewer Christian participants on relationships training programmes? Has
The Sex Thing
It may be awkward, but in an extract from Rachel Gardner’s new book, she shares the conversations we need to be having with young people.
X THING ‘What could happen if you were that girl who hasn’t had sex?’ I asked.
Maybe, in choosing not to name sex, we think it can remain a thing that can be put somewhere. Contained. Explained in short sentences. Restrained by strict rules. But the thing is, whatever our reasons for not talking about
‘I didn’t,’ she mumbled. ‘I’ve not done it yet...’
‘You get called frigid, by the boys and the girls. And all the other girls hate you.’ The conversation went on. All the while her best friend was silent. I was curious. Turning to her I asked, ‘What do you think?’ ‘Don’t ask her,’ the first girl interrupted with a smile. ‘She started having sex with her boyfriend last year!’
‘But you said...’ It was a devastating moment for these two friends. Huge decisions had been made based on a story that
brain and recalibrates society’s understanding of intimacy. Before the #MeToo movement. Before terms like CSE (child sexual exploitation) and FGM (female genital mutilation) meant anything to the average church youth worker. Youth culture has shifted and continues to move rapidly. The advancement in sextech and changing societal attitudes towards sexual behaviours and identities means we’re preparing young people for a world we don’t fully understand. In addition, decades of secularisation and culture change has weakened youth engagement with the church, and vice versa, contributing to our nervousness to engage young
talking about sex just got less interesting for young people? I don’t think so. Has talking about sex got more complicated for us as Christian leaders? Absolutely.
This has got me wondering what the Church needs to do in the next few years to form a sexual ethic that young people could thrive in. What shape would our conversations take? How might we become the compassionate enablers young people need us to be on their journey towards sexual maturity? Emerging Generation
is shorthand for something much broader that includes sexual behaviour, biological differences between male and female bodies, sexual thoughts and feelings, and reproduction. Scroll through social media or switch on Netflix and sex seems to be everywhere – knocked about, joked about, shocked about, aroused about but not properly spoken about. What about in church, our youth groups or families – how is sex reduced to an ‘it’ there?
The world has replaced role models with influencers. Influencers change the external, but role models change the internal. Influencers say do your hair like this, make-up like this and go on holiday like this. Role models show a way to do life which says if you want, you can live like this. I am no perfect role model, but I do know we need more role models for these young people. So, my approach is to be as real, authentic and approachable as I possibly can.
ICK FIRE QUE
Emerging Generation The HTB Network
Research is revealing that attractional services have not seen as many young people coming back after the pandemic. However relational communities which stayed in personal contact through the pandemic have seen them stay connected and even grow spiritually. In Luke 15 the shepherd went after the one lost sheep. The hard thing about youth ministry is that to do this well you need a lot of shepherds, and this is what the Church needs now. We don’t need slicker or cooler youth leaders. We just need a generation of parents, teachers, anyone with a heart for young people to care for a generation of lost young people.
Quick Fire Questions 36
H DA N B
How has the pandemic shaped your approach to youth work?
How has Covid affected young people’s connection to church?
Dan Blythe, Global Youth Director at Alpha Youth
What is your highlight of 2021? In August when we shot some new content with Alpha Youth called ‘Got Questions?!’ we created a space for teens to talk about whatever they wanted to. I was reminded how incredible this generation is and how they are no longer waiting for us to give them a mic or a platform. They are using their voice on their social media regardless. If you want to follow ALPHA YOUTH on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook you can find it under @alphayth
“ WE DON’T NEED SLICKER OR COOLER YOUTH LEADERS. WE JUST NEED PEOPLE WHO WILL CARE FOR A GENERATION OF LOST YOUNG PEOPLE.
Developing Leaders 38
LOUISE POWELL & THE PETER STREAM
How did you come to faith?
How has the Peter Stream helped?
I grew up in an Irish and Jamaican Christian family but it wasn’t very stable so my early years were quite unsettling. I remember being in a tent at a summer festival around the age of seven and saying I wanted to be Jesus’ friend. It meant we got a free bible and I was into books. I spent my teens and twenties in church but at times it became more of a Sunday event and felt a real desire to give my all when I was baptised at 20.
Being part of the Peter Stream has been like being part of a small family all discerning and discussing things together. We have spoken about racism in the UK, in the church, and the barriers to leadership that those of ethnic minorities feel. We’ve spoken about class, education, all the way down to what it means to be a mum who feels called to ordination. It has been a safe space to figure all of this out together and that has been the biggest support for me.
What have been some of the barriers you’ve faced in your journey to leadership?
Describe the church you’d love to lead in five years.
In 2014 I found myself accidentally part of the Anglican church on a gap year. I started to feel called to church leadership but didn’t see many females, and definitely didn’t see any of an ethnic minority. This was quite discouraging and made me question if I really felt called.
Louise Powell, a recent graduate of The Peter Stream is now training for ordination in the Church of England. We talk to her about her experiences.
In five years, I would love to be leading a church that is diverse in its leadership team, staff team, congregation, and the way we worship. It would reflect the community it is part of and meet genuine needs in the community. I’d love it to be the first place people think to turn to when celebrating big life events, and the first place to run to in a crisis. Ultimately I want it to ooze the love of God in an infectious way that those who hated or were hurt by the church, can feel welcomed and love it again.
Louise Powell from the Peter Stream
“ WE’VE SPOKEN ABOUT RACISM IN THE CHURCH, CLASS AND EDUCATION, ALL THE WAY DOWN TO WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A MUM WHO FEELS CALLED TO ORDINATION. IT HAS BEEN A SAFE SPACE TO FIGURE ALL OF THIS OUT TOGETHER AND THAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST SUPPORT FOR ME.”
KEEPING ON COURSE A recent graduate of the Accelerator Programme, Ali Hill is the Senior Leader of St Wins in Totton, a Network plant from Saint Mary’s in Southampton. She shares her top reads and listens of 2021.
LIVE NO LIES
by John Mark Comer
WALKING THROUGH WINTER
by Katherine Gantlett True wisdom comes through experience, and Walking Through Winter charts the journey of how Katherine learned to let God love her in and through pain and loss. It is a wise, vulnerable and theologically enriched account of grief that has already impacted the lives of those who have read it. Highly recommended.
It seems that everyone read The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry last year during Lockdown 1, and his latest book is another gift to the church. He writes with clarity and such compelling spiritual depth that reading this makes you feel energised and equipped to combat the lies we listen to and instead live the life God has for us.
CAN YOU HEAR ME? TUNING IN TO THE GOD WHO SPEAKS
by Brad Jersak I have given away this book more times than any other to those who long to connect with God in their everyday lives. Brad speaks with wisdom, clarity and gives such freedom to connect with the Father who is always speaking. I read this again this year, and it’s just as brilliant as ever.
A BURNING IN MY BONES
Emerging Generation The HTB Network
by Winn Collier A fantastic biography of Eugene Peterson, one of my all-time heroes of faith. His simple search for authenticity in his faith and his life and the way he made the Bible so accessible to everyone has profoundly affected the way I pastor and preach.
GLORIFY APP I have been using this daily app for about a year now, and I really like the combination of word, reflection and devotion that it offers. It’s applicable, easy to use and I’m struggling not to get over-addicted to the little cheering noise it makes when you complete the whole thing every day.
Ali Hill, Senior Leader of St Wins in Totton
Julian Powell, Peter Stream Chaplain
RAISING UP LEADERS
Through the Accelerator Programme, the Peter and Caleb Streams, a new generation of leaders are being equipped and resourced to lead in a wide range of church contexts. The Accelerator Programme A one-year intensive training course designed to prepare future leaders to plant a flourishing and thriving church. The 2021 Peter Stream cohort
This year we have 21 new leaders on the programme; 14 on the Planting Stream and seven on the newly established Estates Stream.
The Peter Stream
Julian Powell Peter Stream Chaplain
We welcomed 33 new leaders to the Peter Stream this term; there were four candidates on the first Peter Stream in 2018, and we are thrilled that each year this stream continues to grow.
The Caleb Stream With often one priest assigned to serve multiple rural parishes, this stream aims to mobilise a generation rich in Christian leadership and life experience to serve in dwindling parishes across the UK. After a successful pilot in 2020, the Caleb Stream launched in September with 12 participants now training for Church leadership.
“OUR VISION IS FOR EVERY PETER TO ‘SEE THE GOLD’ IN THEM AND GET GREATER CLARITY OF WHAT IT MEANS TO BE CALLED TO CHURCH LEADERSHIP WITHIN THE CofE.”
Since its launch in 2018, 72 men and women who have previously felt excluded based on either education, social background or race, are pursuing a call towards ordained leadership.
Back to Where weLife are
CRT works in partnership with the diocese to find a centrally located, ‘iconic’ building which can be adapted to fit the needs of 21st-century mission. Despite the impact of the pandemic on several refurbishment projects during 2020, here are some of the most recent churches that have been brought back to life.
Moving The HTBForwards Network
Hope Street Church, Wrexham before & after
TO PENNY LANE
WHAT’S NEXT? Tim Matthews, leader at LOVECHURCH, Bournemouth, shares how his thinking has changed. Winston Churchill apparently said, ‘never let a good crisis go to waste’. For sure, we’re facing challenges, but my one-word answer to the question, ‘What next?’ is: Opportunity. At LOVECHURCH, we’re thinking about that in four ways:
1. From one day to every day
NELSON STREET CHURCH
2. From ‘here’ to everywhere
The digital innovations over the last year now provide us with a fantastic platform for reaching digital natives and delivering resources to the saints in the sphere of creation where God has called them to be. They don’t need to come on to the church sites to get that. Socalled ‘hybrid church’ is a mind-bending challenge to embrace but there’s a huge opportunity if we can.
On June 23rd, the official opening of Nelson Street Church was presided over by the Bishop of Manchester. This former Temperance Billiards Hall, recently used as an Asian restaurant, was purchased by the Diocese of Manchester in 2019. A comprehensive refurbishment was undertaken to convert this building into a wonderful place to gather and worship.
Blackburn Close to the centre of Blackburn, this unlisted Victorian church is in the early stages of the reordering process. Plans have been approved for a major overhaul of the interior along with critical repairs to the essential infrastructure. We have planning permission to demolish and rebuild the attached church hall to create an exceptional space for young people to gather safely.
3. From uniformity to multiplicity There have been many painful wake-up calls over the last 18 months causing us to see that we weren’t as diverse as we’d hoped, especially along race, age, culture, ability and class lines. This has caused us to restructure our leadership and governance bodies. It also caused us to start up new projects – we’ve got a big ‘Love Your Neighbour’ programme and a new Spear centre to help disadvantaged young people change their lives by accessing employment and training.
4. From destructive/unsustainable to creative/sustainable The pandemic opened our eyes to the radical changes that can be accomplished when the collective willpower is there to do so. UK society adapted its lifestyle and released enormous new finance overnight. This is rocking the way we’re now approaching environmental issues as a discipleship issue. It’s also affecting the way we’re approaching issues like evangelism, homelessness, financial debt and employment – there are solutions to these issues, which previously we might have thought were unsolvable.
Located on the corner of the main precinct in Wrexham, this former Burton’s department store was purchased by the Diocese of St Asaph early in 2018. Since then, a complex programme of refurbishment has converted this building into Hope Street Church. Set over three floors, the main auditorium is on the top floor with views over the town – a great place to pray over the people of Wrexham and beyond.
Penny Lane Church (formally St Barnabas) has undergone a substantial upgrading. Famous for its connection with the Beatles, the building is now a warm and welcoming space to explore. Music is at the centre of this church, with a high specification to the sound system and acoustics and now a great venue to minister to musicians.
Having restarted in-person Sunday gatherings we’re talking less about ‘coming to church’ and more about ‘going from church’. It’s an opportunity to reset Sundays as providing community, prayer and fuel for mission. We’ve tried to resist restarting the ‘resource-consuming services juggernaut’ that obliterates our energy for midweek mission. The pandemic sent us as a church to our knees – that became a daily online reality for us rather than odd moments in the week as previously.
Resurgam: We Will Rise Again
I WILL RISE AGAIN
Moving The HTBForwards Network
The phoenix on the south door of St Paul’s Cathedral
PLAY YOUR PART Join us as we work towards hundreds of churches growing, multiplying, transforming lives and bringing hope, in every community. Let’s do something great together.
Sarah Jackson, CEO of CRT on our mandate to rebuild. As we begin to re-emerge into the ‘new normal’ from the pandemic, it is as if the fog and disorientation of the past 18 months are beginning to clear, revealing a stark new landscape. It is a landscape that reflects the deep losses people have suffered. The rawness of bereavement, the impact of job losses, crushed hopes and opportunities robbed by Covid-19. Alongside the loss, there is a new acknowledgement of our human fragility, spotlighting our vulnerabilities, our deeper need for each other, our need for love, and our purpose. Individually and corporately, we are trying to process a national trauma and reorient ourselves into a landscape that doesn’t feel familiar. How do we begin to rebuild our lives, our families, our businesses, our communities and our nation?
Become a Friend of CRT today crtrust.org/donate
Follow us @churchrevtrust
Front cover: Youth at St Peter’s, Brighton Back cover: The angel mural on the wall of Nelson Street Church, Rochdale
I wonder if Londoners in September 1666 faced similar disorientation and loss of familiar landmarks to help rebuild their lives around. Not only had they suffered a devastating plague but the subsequent damage caused by the Great Fire of London was extensive, destroying 436 acres, 13,200 homes, 87 churches including St Paul’s Cathedral and most of the city’s official buildings, leaving 100,000 people homeless. Sir Christopher Wren was commissioned to rebuild the once iconic St Paul’s Cathedral. Amid the rubble of the building site, Wren was given a fragment of a gravestone containing the single word RESURGAM (I will rise again) in large capitals, from Matthew 27:63. In response, Wren decided to carve a large phoenix above the south transept stretched over this word as a sign of London rising from the ashes of the Great Fire, bringing new hope and new confidence. As you and I look at the areas we find ourselves needing to rebuild, whether it’s our mental health, building new rhythms of work, rebuilding our finances or health, we can be confident of one thing; that if we commit to rebuilding with Jesus as our centre and cornerstone, we are building on an unshakable foundation. Like Wren, as we look at the rubble, maybe we will see this once-in-a-century opportunity for the church to arise with healing in her wings, like the phoenix. I have seen churches tirelessly serving their communities up and down our nation during this pandemic. In Isaiah 58, God promises that as we prioritise the most vulnerable, ‘then your light will rise in the darkness… your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.’ This is our mandate to rebuild. Whatever circumstances you find yourself facing today, remember that God is the master builder, He creates order out of chaos, He brings beauty out of ashes, He shines light in the darkness, He restores the broken, nothing and no one is beyond repair or restoration. God is in the business of bringing dead things back to life. I pray that you may experience the power of the Holy Spirit that together we may ‘Resurgam’ as we start to rebuild, in Jesus name.