Church Planting/Revitalisation In Northern Ireland

Church Planting/Revitalisation In Northern Ireland

Joshua Marty Julie & Martha McNeely

Tell us a little about yourself

I am a 42 year old, son of a farmer from the NW Ulster/Donegal border. I Moved to the South of England when I was 10 and came back to the University of Ulster when 23. I played lots of sport, and despite frequently attending church, I was out drinking, DJing and getting up to all the usual lad stuff. I met a girl when I graduated at 26. She was clearly Christian and I realised that I wasn’t. So, I prayed at this time of crisis in my life and experienced great peace and a certainty about the evangelical Gospel. After media work for 4 yrs, I went into train for the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Belfast.

Tell us a little about the area you work in

Ballykeel Church is a 38 yr old plant in a once blossoming housing estate in the edge of middle class Ballymena, County Antrim. It has been suffering from drugs, political violence, family breakdown and economic deprivation. Due to massive public /Euro investment it has improved. There would be a few traditional Ulster Protestant religious families in the area. But, most folk know nothing about the Gospel and are truly pagan. It’s an estate of about 2,000 people / 1200 homes.

Tell us a little about how you got involved in ministry in this area

I was called to the Church by the elders.  I wanted a church with expository ministry, male elders and a missional heart.

Tell us a little about some of the difficulties of ministry

  1. Finding time for ongoing outreach, especially to local men.
  2. The time it takes to see people move from brokenness to the Gospel life.

Tell us a little about some of the blessings of your ministry

Sunday mornings can be amazing. Literally anyone could walk in the door. Great listening to the Word. Warm fellowship.

Do you have a team or do you work alone? Why?

I have a part-time Cornhill Belfast guy who does youth discipleship. Also, a retired CEF ministry lady who does elderly pastoral calls. We have elders and a committee who fulfil the traditional roles.

Do you have a plan or a strategy for reaching out with Christ?

Basic pastoral work, spending time in local bands / football / boxing club making connections. Doing weddings and funerals leading to bridge building, then to Christianity Explored then Disc Explored, then small groups.

How do you do discipleship?

As above. Though I try to delegate as much disc exp and then small groups to others.

What are the best resources you have come across?

I love Christianity Explored. Gospel Centered Life / books of C John (Jack) Miller have been v helpful for me personally and others in the Church

How important is training leaders for this work?

Massively. I spend tons of time with men and need to do more.

How can we best pray for you, your family and your work?

  1. Humility and grace as we serve our estate and church.
  2. Patience as I mission with people in and out of church.
  3. Resources. I would love to employ other apprentices/volunteers/retired missionary etc to join me.

Thanks for your time Marty and we wish you God’s blessing in your work.