A Capital Idea – Antioch

Antioch PlanNice piece in this month’s Evangelicals Now. Good to get some coverage. And what with Noah’s release it was hardly a slow news month. Front page was a bonus. I was expecting the piece to be tucked away on the inside pages sandwiched between an advert for the Protestant Truth Society and a book review for the latest book bewailing the theological liberalism of those that don’t hold to a six day literal interpretation of Genesis 1.

It’s a well crafted piece of journalism, in my honest opinion. OK, so I wrote it. What’s especially brilliant is the bit where I quote myself! In my defence, I’d been asked to write up something for EN. I spoke with the administrator who just happens to be an old school friend and he gave me some hints and told me to send something in from which they could work. I hadn’t realised it was actually going to be attributed to me! If I’d known I wouldn’t have quoted myself!

Here’s the piece in full.

The Antioch Plan is a new church planting initiative for London.

It’s been launched by Co-Mission, the cross-denominational church planting network run by Richard Coekin. This exciting development is an attempt to gather and plant ‘house church’-sized congregations across the wide variety of Greater London’s geography. Their objective is to recruit, train and deploy a cohort of ten to 15 pioneer church planters and fund them over a three-year period. And they’ve been given £1 million to finance it.

Anglican and Free Church

Recruitment has begun already. A wide variety of men from both Anglican and Free Church backgrounds have responded to promotional materials in the Christian press. The first in a series of selection interviews with the Antioch Board has already taken place. Four men have been approved for the scheme and they’ll commence in September 2014. The second round of selection interviews is due to take place later this month.

The diversity of candidates represents Co-Mission’s determination to plant in the different communities across London. Two of the recently appointed planters are Tom Sweatman and Mike Reith. Tom is 25 years old and he has recently completed a ministry apprenticeship at Cornerstone Church in Kingston. He is planning a house church plant on the other side of the Thames in the suburb of Hampton.

Mike is approaching his retirement. He has spent the last 20 years as the senior minister at Dagenham Parish Church. Concerned by the lack of gospel-preaching churches near his home, he wants to do something bold for the thousands who have never heard the good news of Jesus Christ. His plan is to plant in an ethnically mixed and deprived area of East London. These two planters and these two locations demonstrate the Co-Mission’s intention to resource a diverse range of new church plants.

Oak Hill and LTS

September’s cohort of pioneer church planters will have access to a training programme running alongside the already wellestablished Co-Mission apprenticeship training scheme. Lectures in theology will be provided at a Wednesday workshop by staff from Oak Hill and London Theological Seminary. Ministry training and Bible handling will be taught by senior Co-Mission ministers. The specific church planting training will be given by a variety of experienced church planters, many coming from the country’s gospel partnerships. In addition to a formal training programme, each planter will be encouraged to partner with an existing Co-Mission church, perhaps even recruiting a launch team from that church family. They will be encouraged to join a local cluster of Co-Mission churches to benefit from the wisdom and resources of existing churches. An Antioch church planting mentor will provide advice and support throughout the three-year launch period.

Over the past few years, Co-Mission has gained experience of planting both with individuals and small teams looking to grow house church plants. Two plants in particular have trialled the ideas that underpin the approach of Antioch.

From Putney to Brixton

The Boathouse Putney is a church plant into familiar territory for Co-Mission. But the way they did it was anything but familiar. Pete Snow and his wife moved into the area in 2010. Over an 18-month period they gathered a Bible study group and ranChristianity Explored courses for unbelievers. They launched a Sunday meeting in November 2012 with 25 people. They’ve recently appointed their first experienced pastor so that Pete can move to theological college to study.

Jay Marriner has spent the last two years training as a church planting apprentice at Christ Church Balham. During that time he has been trying to establish a reformed evangelical gospel work amongst the black community in the heart of Brixton. He has seen the Lord gather two Bible study groups, had contact with a large number of local residents and launched a mentoring scheme amongst teenagers at a local secondary school. He is currently studying at the Cornhill training course while he gears up for the imminent launch of a regular Sunday meeting.

Significant moment

Speaking to EN, the recently appointed director of Antioch and senior minister at Christ Church Balham, Richard Perkins, said: ‘It was a hugely significant moment in God’s plan of salvation when the first Christian believers at Antioch intentionally reached into a very different social context from their own. Antioch subsequently became the base for cross-cultural mission to the world. We’ve boldly called our church planting strategy after the church in Acts 11. Wouldn’t it be great if, as a result of these new fledgling church plants, a great number of people believe and turn to the Lord?’.

Still spaces

At the time of going to press, the Antioch Plan still had vacancies for its first cohort of pioneering planters.

If you wanted more details on Antioch, you can find them here.

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