Church Planting Conference

415734Just spoken to a mate who’s involved in church planting in Oxford. I invited him to ‘Planting for Christ’. Despite being an old Co-Mission boy, he didn’t know anything about it. To be fair, he’s been in the States for the last few years. And so I thought it’s probably worth a quick post so that people are aware it’s happening.

In my view this is a conference worth attending. Not all of them are. Don’t make me name names. As conferences go for usefulness, it’s up there with the administrators’ conference. It’s church planting specific. And its distinctive is the desire to be practical. That’ll probably be no more in evidence than in Richard Coekin’s seminar, which is an unplugged Q&A clinic. It’s entitled ‘Get going … in planning your plan’. Basically Richard will respond to  questions posed by delegates on church planting specifics. I can’t imagine that it’ll be recorded. It probably shouldn’t be because it won’t be characterised by nuanc; few things he says will die the death of a thousand qualifications. He won’t always be right. Irritatingly for those of us who work closely with him, he often is. But even when he’s not, he’s hugely stimulating and encouraging. That hour-long session is probably worth the admittance price alone.

Then there are two plenary sessions. I’m speaking on ‘What constitutes ‘success’ in planting?’ Because I’m so familiar with it, obviously! And Andy Patterson, the FIEC Yoda of Church Planting, will be looking at the issue of sustainable sacrifice in ministry. That’s a burning question amongst planters who feel like we’re involved in the spiritual equivalent of starting up our own business. You’re not. And you tell yourself you’re not. But you still think it.

The seminars before lunch are entitled ‘Get Going’. They’re to do with starting up plants. Reuben Hunter will reflect on his experience in planting Trinity West in Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush, in the seminar ‘Get going … in a big city’. Pete Woodcock, from Cornerstone Kingston together with Simon Martin from King’s Church Walton on Thames will talk about church planting in the suburbs. And Jason Roach of the Bridge Battersea and Graham Miller the Director of London City Mission will talk about getting going in a UPA.

After lunch the seminars are entitled ‘Keep Going’ and they’re to do with maintaining spiritual health. Andrew Nicholls, now on the staff at Dundonald as the Biblical Counselling guru, will deal with our marriages and the stresses placed on them by the demands of church planting. Jeremy Hobson, who’s led the St Helen’s Church Plant, Trinity Islington for the past few years, will talk about maintaining our own spiritual disciplines and devotion for the Lord Jesus Christ. Neil Powell will talk about keeping going despite the financial pressures. Neil is involved with Birmingham 2020, a church planting initiative in the country’s second city. He’s also the senior pastor of City Church. Andy Mason, who runs a ministry on a large UPA estate off the King’s Church, St John’s Chelsea will talk about perservering through the inevitable disappointments of gospel ministry.

I’m a big fan of this conference. I don’t think you need to be involved in church planting to find it useful. But the particular demands of church planting bring the issues that all of us in full-time gospel ministry face into sharp focus, perhaps with an increased intensity. You can find details of the conference here. It’s held at the Factory in Raynes Park (a suburb of  Wimbledon). And at £15 it’s a bargain.


Planting for Christ 2014

file_gbt2boo5x6iaxsvsx3latwcamfhjfwzyDetails of ‘Planting for Christ’ have finally emerged. It’s the day church planting conference run by Co-Mission. I’m a massive fan of this conference. I think it’s excellent. I’m sure I’m not supposed to say this given that it’s run by the organisation of which I’m a part. But I have no part in planning it. And until this year I’ve barely been involved in it. So I don’t feel conflicted. And it’s usually the seminars that make it for me.

You can find details here.

The aim of this planting conference is threefold.

1. To explore biblical principles that should shape contemporary church planting so we’re not just pragmatic but driven by God’s word.

2. To encourage missional priorities for making disciples of all nations so we’re not just growing our networks but reaching the lost with the Gospel

3. To share practical wisdom of proven church-planters for British contexts so we’re not just theoretical but realistic and effective, and so to glorify Christ, the Lord of the Church who is our motivation, model and message.

The theme this year is ‘Get Going: Keep Going’.

As in past years, there are two plenary sessions. And placed in between them, either side of lunch, are two practical seminars. This year Andy Patterson, the FIEC Director of Planting will speak on the subject of what level of sacrifice is ‘tolerable’. And unexpectedly, I’ve been asked to speak on the subject of what constitutes ‘sucess’ in planting. Short answer? Spoiler alert: Still being a Christian, married and able to string together a coherent sentence! I made need more than that. And 1 Corinthians 3 should help.

Arguably the best part of ‘Planting for Christ’ is the seminars.

Under the ‘Get Going’ heading of seminars Reuben Hunter from Acts 29 and Trinity West Church will talk about getting going in a city centre. Reuben is the pioneer planter who’s led the Acts 29 plant in the Hammersmith and Shepherd’s Bush area.

Jason Roach, from the Bridge Battersea, and Graham Miller, the Chief Executive of London City Mission, will talk about getting going in a Urban Priority Area (UPA). The Bridge is a collaborative church plant between Co-Mission and LCM.

Pete Woodcock and Simon Martin are going to talk about getting going in the suburbs. Simon has recently planted the Kings’s Church Walton on Thames. And Pete is the Co-Mission cluster leader from Cornerstone Kingston who’s encouraged Simon throughout the process.

Richard Coekin will run a church planting clinic in which he’ll respond to questions posed by the delegates. Richard provides this workshop on a termly basis. It’s an opportunity to download the wisdom compiled over years of doing church planting himself, overseeing church plants in Co-Mission and advising lots of others who seek his advice.

The seminars after lunch are about keeping going throughout the hardships and demands of church planting ministry.

Andrew Nicholls, the Biblical Counselling supremo within Co-Mission, will talk about keeping your marriage going.

Jeremy Hobson from Trinity Church in Islington is going to address the issue of how we keep going in our private spiritual devotions. For me, it’s toss up between this one and the next.

Andy Mason, the Senior Minister St John’s Chelsea, will talk about how we keep going through discouragements.

And Neil Powell from the 2020 Birmingham, the church planting initiative in that city, is going to help us make sense of life with the financial pressures.

I think it’s going to be great. The nuts and bolts practical approach of the seminars is what sets it apart, even as a ministry conference. You can book a place here.



Planting for Christ – Media

Last Wednesday was the Co-Mission ‘Planting for Christ’ Conference. It was a good day. There was a good turn out, though not as many came as did last year. Mark Driscoll must’ve been quite a pull.  The talks from the conference are now available here.

I left the day (early if truth be told – to pick up various children) hugely encouraged. I missed Al Stewart’s talk but I got Richard’s and two seminars.That was enough for me. I was hugely stimulated. The conference aims to be ‘Biblical, Missional  and Practical’. And it did it for me in each of those areas.

Richard’s talk was especially helpful in causing me to re-examine the biblical principles that underpin and inform my passion for church planting.If you only listen to one talk from the conference, this should probably be it. It was excellent. Look out for his lightning summary of some of Ed Stetzer’s comments choosing church planters. There’s real wisdom in his observations.

I came away wanting to plant another church. In that sense the conference helped me to be missional. I’m desperate to think about how we at CCB can launch another congregation to reach another area with the gospel. I don’t want to lose the recklessness of youth as I move into middle age. Wisdom tempers the arrogance of the young but old men can become worryingly conservative. I’d rather have a go and fail than wait till all the ducks are in a row and never get round to it.

Justin Mote’s and Andrew Evans’ seminar made me think about what we’re doing and how we’re trying to do it. Andrew was very gracious in answering  a barrage of questions (largely from me, I think) about the practical details of what they did, where they did it and how they did it. That’s just so helpful for practitioners!

Dex has managed to record both the main talks, as you might expect. But he’s also recorded some of the seminars.

I’m looking forward to hearing what William Taylor had to say about ‘Priorities in City Centre Plants’. I’ll be amazed if it’s not teaching the Bible! But I’ll get back to you on that. Mike Cain took a seminar on preaching that’ll be pure gold. Andy Patterson talked about congregational identity and planting networks, which is something we face within Co-Mission.

You can get the talks here.

Planting for Christ

The second Co-Mission day conference ‘Planting for Christ’ is on Wednesday 21st March this year. The theme of the day is ‘The Mission of the Church’.

No doubt they’ll be interacting with some of the material in Greg Gilbert’s and Kevin de Young’s book. At least that’s what I’m assuming since Richard hasn’t ever read Christian books for fun and it’s been open on his desk for weeks!

The aims of the conference are stated as follows

  • To explore Biblical principles that shape contemporary church-planting so we’re not just pragmatic but driven by God’s Word
  • To encourage Missional priorities for making disciples of all nations so we’re not just growing networks but reaching unbelievers with the gospel
  • To share Practical wisdom from proven church planters for British urban contexts so we’re not just theoretical but effective

and so to glorify Christ, the Saviour and Lord of the church who is our motivation, model and message.

Richard Coekin and Al Stewart are the main speakers, though that’s a little unfair. There are more than ten main speakers. Half of the day is given over to seminars which allows for a good deal of flexibility in choice.

I’m interested in hearing what Steve Timmis has to say about ‘Nurturing missional Godliness in Plants’ in the first session. Though it’ll be a shame to miss hearing William Taylor on ‘Priorities in City Centre Plants’. Phil Allcock and Pete Woodcock on ‘Making Disciples One to One’ will be gold dust. I’m going to send our staff to different seminars and tell them to take extensive notes. Or record it on their mobile!

In the second seminar session Justin Mote’s session on ‘Deciding where to Plant’ should be stimulating and Roo Standring and Paul Dawson’s answer to ‘Planting with or despite the C of E’ will undoubtedly be informed by their contrasting experiences north and south of the river Thames!

You can find further details of the day here. You’ll find the complete list of seminars there.

You can book a place via the Good Book website here.

I work for Co-Mission and so you’d expect me to say this, but I think it looks great. The number of different speakers is exciting. They come from different countries. For example Al Barth is from the USA and Al Stewart is from Australia. The contexts the speakers work in are very different. For example Steve Casey works on a northern council estate, Mike Cain in the suburban south and William Taylor in the city centre. Theologically the speakers’ convictions will be pretty similar. So whilst there won’t be the nervous excitement we enjoyed last year when Mark Driscoll got up to speak, there’ll be the settling confidence of knowing that we’re all on the same page!

Planting for Christ – Media

The mp3 talks from the Planting for Christ conference are now available on the Co-Mission website. I heard Richard Coekin’s talk from Romans 15 on on why we should church plan. Essentially he argued that we should church plant to glorify Christ and to reach the unreached. Hard to argue with that! I heard most of Mark Driscoll’s talk, which was more about how to lead than who should lead. Nevertheless it’s well worth a listen. Some of the older guys who remembered said that Mark’s style and prophetic analysis of our cultural idols reminded them of Phillip Jensen in the 1980s. I’m not sure what Phillip would make of that or Mark, for that matter. Markpoint that no-one else in the history of the world had the opportunity to preach the gospel to 2 billion people made me realise just how much more the Bishop of London should have said. He touches on that!

I Mark afterwards because we interviewed him for the website; lovely man. It’s easy to see why guys follow him; he’s warm, witty, self effacing and a shrewd operative. Richard and Mark sat on the sofa and chatted about ministry, mistakes and so on. Mark was very relaxed and very assured in his answers. Richard was very aware that not everyone in the wider evangelical constituency on either side of the pond is unqualifiedly positive about Mark’s style! Have I put that right?! But it was heartening to hear Mark talk about repentance for past mistakes, the way he’s benefited from the advice and wisdom of older saints in the US and he even promised not to say anything that’d cause me to lose my job at the London Men’s Convention this Saturday. That remains to be seen! And it’s not really a job; more of a hobby.

I especially enjoyed hearing about the type of people Mars Hill are reaching with the gospel. It’s not middle class Surrey, that’s for sure! His context is so very different to ours. It made me realise that the people he counsels in Death by Love aren’t fictional.

The interview should be uploaded some time soon; when Dex pulls his finger out. And we’ve edited out the lewdness and swearing. Just kidding. We’ll leave that in. They’re the best bits.

Not all the seminars were recorded. Ed’s, Andy’s and mine wasn’t deemed worthy of recording for posterity. I’m trying not to take that personally or, as a negative assessment of my ministry by my boss and his administrator. I’m over it now.

The good news is that almost all of my material is available online. I’ve posted it here. It’s stuff on apprenticeships from the perspective of church planting. It’s not rocket science but I hope it’s helpful.

Planting for Christ

We’re just about to go public on a new church planting day conference. It’s called Planting for Christ. It’s on 4th May 2011. It’s at the Factory, Raynes Park, London SW20. You can find details here.

An ever increasing number of us have been meeting up a couple of times a year to talk about the nuts and bolts of church planting. And it’s been invaluable in helping me think through the judgment calls in ministry situations. I’ve mentioned the benefits before, when I blogged on it here.

Of the main attractions at the conference, I’d identify the following

1. Mark Driscoll will be speaking on ‘Who can plant churches?’, which given his experience with Acts 29 should be insightful and full of wisdom. But I can also imagine him ruffling a few feathers with some of his observations.

2. Richard Coekin will be speaking on ‘Why should we plant churches?’ It’ll be good to see how much Richard can add to Tim Keller’s material on this.

3. But it’s the seminar streams that I’d be most excited about. I happen to be doing one. But that’s not my point. Ed, Andy and I will talk about trying to identify, recruit and managed limited resources in a church plant but that’s about as far as I’ve got in my thinking on the matter. I’ll let you know whether it’ll be worth coming along to. But I’d be excited about the others. It’s an extraordinarily good line up of speakers. I can’t think of another conference where you’d get access to the likes of

That’s a good cross-section of Reformed Evangelicalism.

I’m hoping for mates rates.