20 Schemes: ‘Gospel Churches For Scotland’s Poorest’ (1)

20 Schemes: ‘Gospel Churches For Scotland’s Poorest’ (1)

This week saw the launch of a new website: www.20schemes.com to go alongside our Facebook page and our twitter feed: @20schemes. So, what is 20schemes and how did it come about?

20schemes is the brainchild of myself and Matthew Spandler-Davison, a Scotsman (despite the mangled accent on our video) who planted Bardstown Christian Fellowship in Kentucky. The idea came to me one day when I saw a headline in the local press naming Scotland’s 50 most deprived schemes. The riots in the UK had just happened and I had been wondering if the evangelical church had a cohesive plan to tackle some of the problems in inner city council estates. Almost on a whim, I asked 2 young men who were training for me at the time (one is now my assistant pastor) to research these 50 schemes to find but everything they could about them but, most particularly, to discover if there was an active gospel preaching church in the community.

The results were as sad as they were unsurprising. Of the 50, at least half at no gospel church present and of the rest, even though there was the presence of some form of church, we were uncertain as to their theological and gospel convictions. One thing was clear, though, not only were Scotland’s 50 most deprived schemes in trouble economically and socially, but they were desperately deprived spiritually too. Therefore, if we were really going to see a turn around in the lives of residents in council estates and housing schemes then we were going to have to embrace a radical and long-term gospel strategy.

This is where Matthew came in. I had been in contact with him through a mutual friend and discovered that he was keen to send teams from the USA on short-term mission trips to Scotland. We discussed the merits of that as we pondered the desperate needs of housing schemes in the country. Yes, there is lots of church planting going on right now but, sadly, as followers here know, not too much happening in schemes. There are pockets of work but nothing that is organised at a national level in terms of mutual support and resourcing. Anyway, after much conversation, some mission trips and a lot of Skype calls, I pitched the vision of 20schemes to him in my back garden. Within weeks we had come up with a strategy and within months we had received the support and advice of the leadership at 9marks. I floated the idea out, casually, with Scottish pastors across denominations and have been met with universal approval for the idea.

We have our first planting intern in place in West Pilton (more details to follow) a scheme in the north of the city, we have started a fledgling work in Greendykes, a scheme next to our own and we are currently in early discussions with several churches interested in help and support for housing scheme ministry. All of our schemes will be highlighted on our website and their needs will be made known.

The broad aim of 20chemes is as follows:

We want to send 20 Church Planters to train 20 local leaders, 20 Women’s Workers to train 20 local women & 20 Ministry Apprentices make 20 discipling relationships as we see 20 gospel-centred churches developed and established in 20 Scottish housing schemes.

Our mission is simple.

Building Healthy Gospel Centered Churches for Scotland’s poorest communities

Why do we want to do this? For a number of reasons:

  1. We believe that the Gospel changes everything. We believe that we need to raise up a generation of Bible teachers and preachers who will go into the forgotten schemes of our country.
  2. We recognise that the presence of the Church is mercy ministry. In other words, we want to see local churches built up, evangelising, discipling and equipping a new generation of men and women from within these housing schemes who, likewise, will go and make disciples.
  3. We are heavily burdened for Scotland’s housing schemes as we see these communities with no, or very little, gospel witness. Planting new churches is a key strategy in reaching the lost in these areas.
  4. We desire to assist and resource existing churches – across denominations – and/or gospel ministries in these areas in order to bless them and further Kingdom work. We will plant if we have to but we would rather support and encourage existing work by offering people, resources and training.

How will we do it?

  1. Identify 20 schemes as priority areas.
  2. Identify, where possible, church revitalisation partners in those schemes.
  3. Recruit Church Planters, Female Outreach Workers, and Ministry Apprentices to send into those schemes as the ‘first wave’ of a long-term strategy. We aim to recruit local leaders if possible but we will recruit outside the UK if necessary.
  4. Develop church partners worldwide to support and resource our work in the schemes.
  5. Invest long-term in indigenous leaders by providing training, resources and support.

Please pray for us in this new endeavour. I am going to blog more extensively on these issues in  the coming months as the blog takes on a more generalised housing schemes focus. We are excited about what God is doing and what He will do in these places. Let me reiterate, our aim here is to help to build the local church not to start a denomination. We realise that we will need cross denominational support and we have been blessed immeasurably by local church support in Edinburgh and across Scotland. We have been blessed by the partnership with 9Marks and also a growing friendship with Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and others. We aim to have an official launch in the UK at ‘In This City’ church planting conference  in Edinburgh on 2-3 November 2013.

If we can serve you or your church community please contact me. If you are interested in finding out more about how you could serve as a planter, a women’s worker, a ministry apprentice or an intern, please also contact me or use the form on the website. We will be happy to help. Thanks to you all in advance and praise God for His great mercy. Let’s pray for a gospel revival in Scotland’s housing schemes.

I will blog in more detail on our strategy in the coming weeks.