The Weekender is designed to be an opportunity for those involved in gospel ministry in poor contexts throughout the world to come together in Niddrie for 3 days: to reflect on our ministries theologically, to consider how we can be more effective practically, and to be encouraged spiritually through fellowship and opportunities to network. [bctt tweet=”90 delegates, 19 churches, 12 kids, 9 babies. Learning how to do church in Scotland’s Schemes. #weekender”]It’s a ‘window’ into the life of a working scheme church, showcasing some of the successes and spectacular failures we’ve seen over the last decade. We want delegates to leave totally underwhelmed by our our little church but absolutely overwhelmed by the glorious gospel of Jesus.
This time round, there were 90 of us from 19 different churches; as well as 9 babies and 12 children. So while our dedicated and hard working youth team and volunteers changed nappies, sang songs, played games and taught the kids fundamental truths about God, the rest of us sat in on 6 main teaching sessions, with opportunities for Q&A at the end of each:
- What is the gospel? Speaking from 4 headings – God, Man, Christ, and Response – Andy Prime (church planter in Gracemount, Edinburgh) reminded us that we need to build our lives and churches on the true gospel of Jesus. Without that we are and have nothing to offer our communities. During this session, Graeme McIntosh, one of our 20schemes ministry interns, shared the story of his past life of drugs, violence and crime, and the impact the gospel has had, and is having on his life.
- What is the church? Mez McConnell shared 6 reasons why the church is instrumental in God’s plan of salvation, and why we must therefore strain to revitalise and plant gospel-centred churches in poor communities. Ally Ballam, one of our church members and the event coordinator, shared about the significance of the church in her own life and struggles as a believer and cancer survivor.
- How do we help people without hurting them? In session 3, Mez shared from his own experience of God’s grace through trials and looked at some of the inherent dangers in starting mercy ministries in poor communities as a means to outreach and evangelism. He also looked at how we can over disciple and hurt our new believers.
- Women in the local church. The star of the show was this session on women’s work that even received a round of applause! There was a 60-40 split between male and female attendees at the Weekender. After Natasha Davidson, a local girl who was saved and now runs our youth ministry, shared her testimony, Sharon Dickens (director of operations and women’s ministry at 20schemes) talked about how female leadership functions in a firmly complementarian church, and highlighted the sheer necessity of having solid women involved in gospel ministry in poor communities.
— Dave Clawson (@dudabides) October 1, 2016
- Diversity in the local church. The final session came from Andy Constable, our hummus-loving, chino-wearing, Downton-watching associate pastor, who shared his testimony of being brought up in an affluent Christian background, and the challenges he faced as an (upper) middle-class Englishman, adapting to the culture of the Scottish schemes. Throughout the session he underlined the importance of cultural diversity on any leadership team, and emphasised the need from both parties to be patient, tolerant and loving towards one another.
Q&A with our church elders. Derek Laidlaw, one of our church elders, shared his testimony and how he came into the leadership at the church. Following that, the other 5 elders of Niddrie Community took to the stage and answered a variety of questions about the development of the eldership in Niddrie and how leadership works in a scheme church.
Feedback from the weekend has again been resoundingly positive. Stephen Dawson, a church planter in a council estate in Brighton, England said:
You come to these kinds of things, you hope it’s going to be good and the sessions are going to be alright. Every session has just been brilliant, you guys speak what you’re living… You love Jesus, you love the church, it’s great to see some of the fruit of what you guys have been doing.
Thanks to all that came and everyone that took part! Our next Weekender will be in February 2017. Details will be announced as usual on the blog and on Twitter in the weeks running up to the event.
Maybe we’ll see you there.
The audio recordings of all the sessions are now available on the 20schemes Podcast, or you can download the MP3s here.
— Stephen Dawson (@stephen_dawson) October 2, 2016