Ireland is changing. The signs are everywhere, from cities to schools to streets to churches. What was a place where most people looked to the church for meaning and morals has become more and more secularised. Society is changing in a hurry; what does that mean for the Church and its response?
The membership of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland has decreased, and the problem is not a lack of churches. Could it be that in that context of dwindling congregations, new expressions of church are exactly what is needed?
Over the past 10 years, a number of Presbyterian churches have begun to examine this. In today's society, with its new priorities and new problems, the Church needs a new response.
Upcoming Church Planters Taster Day:
Date – Saturday 13 May 2023 & Venue - Central, Belfast. More information to follow.
In recognising the importance of planting churches in the right way, PCI has assembled a church planting panel. This panel exists to see:
- New life in Christ across this island, north and south, through the planting or re-planting of churches;
- New people trusting in Christ who have a desire and giftedness to lead a planting work;
- New places springing up for planting or re-planting in diverse locations with new burdens and energy for planting to be placed on congregations, north and south.
- Recent PCI church plants:
- Grace and Hope Community Church is a church plant from West Kirk Presbyterian Church led by Peter Burke. It began weekly services in 2022 and meets in the Carlisle Circus area of Belfast. Grace and Hope seeks to help people know and grow in the amazing grace and hope of Jesus. To share the amazing grace and hope of Jesus, in the local area, it works closely with the International Meeting Point. It has been exciting and inspiring to see people from all over the globe gathering together to praise the name of Jesus each Sunday.
- Balbriggan Church is a church plant from Donabate Presbyterian Church, located in North County Dublin and led by Josh McCance. After forming into a community of Christians who met regularly to pray and read the Bible together, they began weekly services in January 2020. They currently meet in a community centre in the heart of the town and seek to share the good news of Jesus with this community. Balbriggan is Ireland’s youngest and most ethnically diverse town and that is represented by the people regularly attending the church plant.
- Central is a church plant from Carnmoney Presbyterian Church into the city centre of Belfast led by Dave Dickinson. It launched in 2016 and gathers every week in May Street Presbyterian Church building on Sunday mornings. Its vision is to join with God and others in the transformation of the city as disciples who make disciples. Central exists to equip, encourage and stir up a community of Jesus to live lives of worship, community and witness scattered throughout the city to be a redemptive presence and has grown to become a diverse and vibrant community of believers.
In order for over 500 congregations to come into existence, it is clear that the Presbyterian Church in Ireland has a long and rich history of church planting. Indeed, John Barkley wrote that it was through “the planting of new congregations the Irish Presbyterian Church sought to be faithful to her evangelical commission.” However, while church planting lies at the heart of Irish Presbyterianism, it is recognised that there has been less momentum in this in the past few decades. And yet the need in this land is great. Across Ireland today, there remains a significant number of towns and villages with little meaningful Christian witness.
It is our prayer that as a branch of Christ’s church on this island, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland would recapture its church-planting DNA in the coming generation through establishing new communities of faith that cause multitudes of people to encounter Jesus in places we aren’t currently present. To this end, we ask for your prayer and invite you to partner with us, as we seek to sow generously, boldly and faithfully in our little patch of God’s beautiful vineyard.
A number of church planting resources have been produced – postcards and a PowerPoint presentation – and are available for download. An article entitled 'Church planting in Ireland' featured in the Presbyterian Herald and can also be downloaded.