Richard Coekin, executive director of the Co-mission church planting network compares the needs of London with the lessons learnt in the North Atlantic over a hundred years ago.
The spiritual need of London may be helpfully likened to the dreadful loss of life incurred when the ocean liner, Titanic, hit an ice-berg in 1912. The death toll was tragically increased by four factors:
- First, there were not enough lifeboats for the passengers – just as we need hundreds more gospel churches for the 10 million people living in London;
- Second, the poorer passengers were locked below decks to allow wealthier passengers to board the lifeboats – just as in London the gospel churches are concentrated in the wealthier districts;
- Third, many half-empty lifeboats waited out of reach of the drowning passengers for fear of being swamped by desperate people – just as too many churches in London seem content to remain half-full and afraid of community outreach for fear of being swamped by the problems of new believers;
- Fourthly, the crew of the Titanic lacked training in how to use the lifeboats – just as so many of our churches and networks with a heart for London lack training in church-planting that is both faithful to Scripture and fruitful in this city!
We urgently need access to flexible, high quality church-planting training in London (from which teams planting in other cities in the UK and beyond can benefit either through participation or by emulation). There is excellent theological education and Bible-handling training available at Oakhill, Cornhill and other flexible courses, but limited hands-on practical, experience-based training available for planting in London.
We need to bring together the best training for church planters in the most accessible way to equip a new generation of plant leaders who will be godly and prayerful, passionate about the gospel of Christ, skilled and robust in Biblical patterns of ministry, enterprising for the Kingdom of God and culturally sensitive for a variety of church-planting contexts.