I recently spent a couple of days away with our Ministry Team in order to discuss polices, have some concentrated teaching and enjoy a bit of fun and fellowship. We try to do it every year in order to welcome any new faces into the fold. This year there were 13 people and their families present. This is our largest year to date and includes people across all levels of our current structure. Present were:
- Ministry Team Members (5). These are senior people who have been with the team 4 years or more and are committed to us long-term.
- Ministry Apprentices (3). These are people who receive a small stipend to pay for their ongoing training and development.
- Intensive Disciples (4). These are four men who are newly converted and live at JRH. They must give me 1-2 years clean living and follow a discipleship programme before they can progress onto our MA programme.
- Church Planting Apprentice (1). This is a young man who has moved to one of our local housing schemes as part of our ’20schemes’ initiative.
As many of you know, one of the chief rationales behind our 20schemes initiative is to draw in church planters, women’s workers and ministry apprentices either from the UK or the USA (in fact from anywhere!) with the long-term objective of training and developing local leaders in these areas. It is our 10-15 year plan to see this happening. The question of whether this approach will work remains to be seen but we feel that our attempt is better than no attempt at all. This means, of course, that cultural outsiders (those born outside of housing schemes) will dominate the early years of 20schemes. However, I remain largely untroubled after sitting back and observing events at our NCC weekend away trip.
For the first time in our history we observed that the number of cultural insiders (those raised in a scheme or council estate) and indigenous converts (those from Niddrie itself) has surpassed the original team of cultural outsiders. So, we currently have 5 cultural outsiders, 1 international (raised in a poor part of Brasil), 4 cultural insiders and 3 indigenous Niddrons. We are 5 years into our experiment to grow more local leaders and I hope that in 5 years time that will translate into positions of real leadership in our church and others connected to 20 schemes. It gives me real hope that the Lord can and will raise a generation of leaders from the most unlikeliest place in this country – the schemes – to bring the gospel to this land and to build healthy Christ centred churches. We are praising the Lord that He would choose weak and foolish people like ourselves to shame the wise and strong in our nation. Please continue to pray for us. Please continue to pray for the growth, strengthening and development of gospel centred churches in Scotland’s poorest areas.