London Church Planting Academy
FIEC is partnering with other evangelical groups in the city to offer training and support through the London Church Planting Academy.
Church planting is just plain hard – especially the first year or two of struggling (with Christ’s energy) to get something started.
I saw a strange thing the other day at our local recreation ground that seemed to illustrate the point. A VW van drove into the car park and a tall athletic guy in sports gear, running spikes and a backwards baseball got out. He opened the back of the van and pulled out a harness and cable, put on the harness, attached himself to the front of the van and started to try to pull. He leaned forward, strained every sinew, pumped his legs and nothing happened. Eventually, the van moved a fraction. He pumped his legs and strained again. Finally he overcame the inertia, got some momentum and was able to start steadily walking the van across the car park.
Whoever this guy was, he was reminding me that getting something started is hard.
Which is one reason why cohort and training are so crucial in church planting. We need to find ways to bring together planters as a band of brothers to share struggles and pray to our Mighty Father together, eat and laugh together, to build relationships that will sustain and to create space for openness and honesty. And we need training – for those planters to be the best soldier-athlete-farmer-workman they can be – theologically equipped, confident in apostolic patterns of ministry, culturally sensitive, joyfully bold, Christ-preaching servant leaders, skilled in the wisest, most biblical, most effective ways to work for gospel traction.
On 25 September 2019, nineteen church planters converged on Hope Church Vauxhall for a morning of Co-Mission church planting training. The training has been running for the previous four years but what was new that Wednesday morning was not only the venue and some tweaks to the curriculum but also that the training is now nested within a collaborative project called the London Church Planting Academy (LCPA) and opened up to planters from other networks.
As Richard Perkins, Co-Mission Director of Church Planting, pointed out,
“We are here from different backgrounds: French, Columbian, Brazilian, American, British… from different denominational backgrounds and networks: FIEC, Anglican, Co-Mission, non-Co-Mission… and working in different planting contexts: inner urban, inner suburban, outer suburban, north and south of the river, places with different social and ethnic makeups, pioneering works and revitalisations.”
There’s great potential here for mutual enrichment and cross-fertilisation as we sit under the preached Word together, interrogate planting case studies, examine planting stages and skills, and as we share lunch together.
The LCPA is an exciting collaboration of church planting networks and movements (Acts 29 GB, AMiE, City to City UK, Co-Mission, FIEC), training providers (Co-Mission, City to City, Crosslands, Union) and mission partnerships (London City Mission, London Gospel Partnership) – working together specifically on the task of equipping church planters.
This is all at a pilot stage at the moment and it remains to be seen how things will develop but already there are new things happening that have come out of the collaboration:
- We are very grateful to have been provided with a venue which is itself a collaboration (LCM, Hope Church Vauxhall, FIEC, Globe Church) and the perfect place for planters to learn, in context.
- Fortnightly Co-Mission Planting training opened up with four non Co-Mission planters joining the cohort and one or two more starting soon.
- Four afternoons of ‘Center Church’ training coming up, delivered by Neil Powell of 2020Birmingham (and pastor of City Church, an FIEC church in Birmingham), with plans for more intense City to City training available in London from next year.
- A new Learning Community, capable of facilitating delivery of the Union MTh, has been initiated; due to launch in October 2020.
- Network leaders and a range of planters have been feeding into discussions and collaborative work on the ideal ‘graduate profile’ of a church planter and on the differing types of planter, plants and methodology.
We’re really grateful to God for these developments, for the spirit of generosity and unity in the gospel and for the godly men he has already brought our way with a desire to launch lifeboats to reach the lost with the gospel of Christ crucified.
Please pray with us for more planters, increasingly rich and well-tuned training, and real fruit – a step change increase in the number of enduring, faithful, fruitful church plants of every kind in London, for the salvation of many to the glory of God.
For more information visit londonplantingacademy.org