An Exeter church has released a courageous vision to launch 100 new churches across the South West of England.
Rediscover Church in Northernhay Street, has outlined the vision responding to a need that an ever-increasing number of people are exploring the Christian faith, many for the first time.
This appears to be a nationwide picture. Over the Covid-19 pandemic, there was a 50% surge in online searches for ‘prayer’, as people turned to faith with feelings of hopelessness, anxiety and worry.
And, although in the South West, 96% of people currently do not attend a church, signs are showing more churches are needed in the years ahead. Since the pandemic restrictions have eased, established churches across region have reported a fresh wave of individuals coming along to ‘exploring faith’ courses such as Alpha, as well as other activities and services.
In response to this need for more churches to be launched, Rediscover Church has begun the Church Planting Academy, which seeks to raise up leaders, of all ages and backgrounds, to be mobilised and equipped to begin church plants all over the region.
Across the country, the style of churches which seem to attract a growth in searchers, are ones which take a modern approach, with lively worship, and providing activities for the youth and young adults to engage in.
The Church Planting Academy is looking to reach those not already in a church community, with individuals and couples with a heart for a particular area, encouraged to be part of a learning community over a year long programme, with the desire that they are ‘sent out’ to communities, building relational connections, working alongside churches already in the area, and in turn launching new church plants.
The style and nature of these church plants will differ; some will gather on a Sunday in a building, whilst others may adopt an approach where meetings are held in people’s homes. The nature of the style and location of the church plant will be informed by the community where it is launched.
The Academy is going into its second year, and has seen 20 people from across the UK take part in the programme so far. Of this cohort, a group have successfully completed the programme, and are set to launch the first of their church plants in Newton Abbot, with a proposed start date in the Autumn.
Rediscover Church is now encouraging all Christians across the UK to consider whether church planting in the South West of England is something for them, and whether they too might like to be part of the Church Planting Academy and help launch new churches all over the region.
Mark Pugh is the Founder of the programme and Lead Pastor for Rediscover Church, and said: “Churches have been so busy during the pandemic – often involved in unseen work in our communities, offering care, support and hope. There is so much need in villages, towns and cities and it is our hope that through both the Church Planting Academy and the resulting new churches, more and more people will be able to access this hope both through their actions and message.”
The Academy is launching again in May, and between now and then individuals can find out more at one of their Open Events. For more information, or to apply to take part, visit www.churchplantingacademy.com