Since last week’s announcement about the Resourcing Church coming to Swindon, (see last week’s bulletin) people have been asking questions like, “Does Swindon really need another church?”. “Why is Holy Trinity Brompton interested in coming here?” “Is this not just going to make our task more difficult?” When this was announced to the Swindon clergy, many had the same kind of questions.
I guess the most common concern is, “Is this not going to affect my Church negatively?” The answer in some cases may well be “Yes”, at least to begin with. Let’s take a look at some statistics first of all.
Here are the results of a survey of six Resourcing Churches. They answer two basic questions often asked.
Where are the attendees going to come from?
Transfer from a Local Church – 32%
New Churchgoers – 24%
Moved into the Area – 21%
Returned to Church – 18%
The Plant Team Itself – 5%
How old are the average attendees?
0 to 10 – 15%
11 to 17 – 8%
18 to 29 – 30% (compared to 6% nationally)
30 to 44 – 27%
45 to 64 – 13%
65+ – 7%
A Challenging Task
The task of the Swindon Resourcing Church is inevitably going to be more difficult than that of the Bristol church plant. If we are aiming for 30% of the congregation to be in the age category 18 to 29, then a city with two large universities is going to be in a very different position from a town with none. You only have to think of the number of young people who will be pouring into Bristol this September, delighted to find a new Holy Trinity Brompton church plant. Bristol aims to be ready to receive these students by opening in September. Because there is no such issue for the Swindon church, Revd Joel Sales aims to open just before Christmas 2018.
A Harvest of Leaders
One of strengths of Resourcing churches is their capacity to produce leaders. They produce a significant number of ordinands (people training for the ordained ministry) and that is one of our biggest requirements as a national church for the future. Even if we meet all our expectations, because of a huge retirement bulge, by 2025 there will be considerably fewer clergy around than there are today. It is a pressing issue both for our Bishops and our General Synod.
HTB and St Helen’s Bishopsgate have between them produced over 40 vocations in the last 10 years, and their church plants have produced even more. There is much to be done before Christmas, but do please keep Joel and his team in your prayers. We want God to overcome our anxieties and grow His Kingdom.