Over recent years, across the country, a new type of church has begun to be planted as part of the Church of England’s mission to this nation. These churches, often, but not exclusively, planted in large towns and cities, have a vision to resource other churches in their area, seek significant social transformation and focus on evangelism. These churches have been referred to as Resource, or Resourcing Churches. Experience shows that new churches make a difference:
- New churches reach new people
- New churches reach more people
- New churches release new leaders
- New churches plant new expressions of church
In the Diocese of Bristol, we have, with Church Commissioners investment, launched three Mission Area’s, informal groupings of parishes where one church serves to support the mission of the wider area. With the support of our bishops and further Church Commissioners investment the Diocese will also be re-opening St Nicholas Church in Bristol which has been closed for 65 years. This exciting project will open in September 2018 and be led by Revd Toby Flint who comes to the church having been senior pastor at Holy Trinity Brompton Church in London.
However, I do not want to write about the city of Bristol. Our bishops have also been working to see how a resourcing type of church could also be a blessing to Swindon.
Attendance in the Church of England in the diocese of Bristol is actually less than the national average. And, church attendance in Swindon is even lower than that.
- Nationally the figure is 1.7%
- In the diocese of Bristol it is 1.4%
- In Swindon it is 1.0%
Whilst these resourcing churches are often planted in university towns, they have also begun to be a blessing in other towns and cities where they have particularly attracted and ministered to people under 30. With this in mind it is strongly believed that such a church would be good news for Swindon.
The Rev Joel Sales is a curate who has responded a call from God to come to Swindon to explore planting such a church here. He will also be coming from HTB where the church has invested heavily in recent years in training and preparing curates to plant and lead this new type of church.
The aim is that the church would launch in Swindon in Advent 2018. At the time of writing, we are not able to state exactly where that church is likely to be. This is not because no plans have been made, but rather because sensitive negotiations are ongoing.
Very significant sums of money will be invested in this project. Much of this is coming from the Church of England Strategic Development Initiative. It is all part of the Church of England Renewal and Reform programme. The aim is not just to fritter money away, but to significantly invest in projects that will see a step change in mission and ministry in a town and have a broader vision to serve the wider church.
This is an introduction to the subject. If you keep reading the bulletin of the next few weeks we will be filling you in with more details as to why this initiative is taking place, and what effect it might have on us here in Haydon Wick and on the town of Swindon.