Here at V3 we get the joy of encountering stories from around the globe that inspire and encourage us and we hope to do the same for our readers by highlighting a few. We are honored to come alongside our church planters as they labor to ground their leadership and missiology in community. We are grateful to be part of many church planting journeys through our Learning Cohorts. It a deep joy for us as a missional church organization to see how God allows our ministry to bless those who allow us to partner with them.
Canning Town Parish Church is a neighbourhood church who exist to join in heaven on Earth in Canning Town, a neighbourhood in the old docks of East London. Ben and Sarah Atkins are church planters with Canning Town Parish Church and were kind enough to take some time to share their experience with a V3 Learning Cohort.
Why did you choose to participate in a V3 Learning Cohort?
We found our people. V3 offered an approach to the process of church planting that worked with the reality of how people, culture and movement work. It offered an understanding of church as an ever-extending family on an everyday adventure. The V3 approach seemed to embrace the earthy reality of church planting whilst being expectant for heaven on earth in the midst of it. Something about that grabbed our imaginations and felt right at a deep level… We found ourselves asking, “isn’t this how it was meant to be?”
Why a learning cohort with V3
The opportunity to practice what we were learning in our own community and in a community of other practitioners was key. Scattered over the globe we were able to see that our learning was based on replicable kingdom principles.
Looking over the curriculum it seemed the process of the learning would cover the character and competencies needed for a church that would multiply.
We wanted to plant a church that would reach a neighbourhood – in coming across V3, we found coaches who were doing this and peers who shared our desire. Learning together was a life-shaping experience.
To continue learning in community as we plant – for our sake, the sake of the team we were leading and the neighbourhood we were called to serve. We wanted to stay on track. We wanted to learn from people who have already been practicing and pursuing a local, movement model of church. Since this is a new approach in our denomination and neighbourhood, we wanted to ensure we learned as much as possible and had accountability to pursue it.
In what way has being in a V3 Learning Cohort changed you?
Sarah: For me personally, as a ‘leader’s wife’ I felt overwhelmed and under-qualified in supporting Ben as primary leader of our church. Our Learning Cohort helped me see the value I bring to the leadership of our community and the ways I can step into it, as well as the structure and tools to do so.
Ben: The learning cohort has changed me into being a better listener, more dependent on the Holy Spirit in my life and our church, better at listening to the neighbourhood and to one another.
It has given me courage and renewed my hope for the church we have been called to plant.
It has brought me friends that I’ve learned from.
In what way has your Cohort experience affected your approach to church?
Sarah: I have been so encouraged that the church model in our vision for our area has been and continues to be proven to be working and sustainable elsewhere. The experience enabled me to recognise and analyse the church traditions and assumption I’ve carried with me, learning from how others in our cohort approach church, and form new Jesus-centred discipling patterns that work for our community.
Ben: It has given us courage to continue cultivating a neighbourhood movement when reverting to creating an attractional church service has seemed quicker and easier.
It has given us examples showing that our dreams for a local, movemental church are not naive but possible.
What is one essential lesson are your learning in your planting journey?
Sarah: To be a movemental church, we need to be discipling discipling disciples!
Ben: that the primary work of planting is prayer. Without prayer I’ve found that either nothing gets built or what gets built is more of me than God. Psalm 127.
Join a V3 Learning Cohort where you too can find coaches and peers who share the journey of church planting and receive grounded training in missional church practices.
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