The Church Commissioners have announced they are investing to create a resource church in the North West. The bid seeks to take a model of church that has worked around the country and apply its thinking in a new way.
Archdeacon Roger Preece who led the bid team said “the support the national church has shown for our bid is phenomenal. With this investment, we will be able to create a new style of church to reach a new generation. Building on, and complementing, our Transforming Wigan and Joshua Centre projects we hope to be able to create an exciting, sustainable church to serve at the heart of the towns of St Helens, Warrington, and Widnes.
“This has involved a great deal of work to get to this stage and I am extremely grateful to the team who have brought this bid to fruition. We now have to create the reality behind the vision"
Resource churches are not new, they have been particularly successful in affluent university towns but what is strikingly different is that we are seeing if they can be successful in the different culture of our towns? what is strikingly new about our vision is that we want to apply this model to a completelydifferent type of town. We are going to be given the ability to invest upfront in families, youth, children and creative worship. Many of our existing congregations are not connected to youth and young adults and this new model of church life is designed with this age group in mind.
The national church investment will give the capacity to grow this project which will aim to become self-sustaining over a period of time.
We are using this model to help us see a bigger church making a bigger difference to a new generation. We will start from a base of one transformed church building in each of the three towns. These centrally located buildings will be designed to support the needs of the resource church allowing a contemporary feel to appeal to the generation we want to reach.
The resource church network has a culture change at its heart. We want to:-
establish a church planting culture with each centre expected to start a new church plant within three years.
work with a discipling culture where after 5 years we have 800 new disciples and 1,200 new worshippers across the nine churches/
create a leadership culture developing home-grown leaders for small groups, leading worship etc as well as having at least one new ordinand or missional leader each year
focus on social justice with social action being an important part of what we offer, working in partnership with statutory agencies to make a bigger difference to the communities we serve.
Building a Resource Church network means more than growth. We believe that we will be building long-term missional capacity into each of our Deaneries, transforming the region and provide valuable learning for our diocese and the national church.
Bishop Paul commended this approach saying “Ours is a fresh approach to using the resource church model of mission by applying it to industrial towns with significant deprivation. Our diocese is not afraid to innovate and try things to build a bigger church making a bigger difference and it is very encouraging that the Strategic Investment Board has chosen to support this vision. Alongside Transforming Wigan and the Joshua Centre, we now have a further opportunity to try something new to reach and disciple a new generation. I’m delighted that the hard work and creativity of Archdeacon Roger and the team have commanded the confidence of the national Church.