In early 2018 Rev. Jonathan de Groot began to form a core team to plant a new reformed and contemporary church in the north-west of Glasgow. As with most church plants, Jonathan and the team had to start from scratch but they were confident that God had led them to reach out to their local community with the Gospel.
Now one year on, Jonathan shares some of his personal experiences so far as well as some of his hopes for the future.
Starting a new church from scratch can be extremely difficult, how have you and your team fared over the past year on a personal level?
We are in a very different place to where we were exactly one year ago. Then, we had only shared the vision for the church and were gathering the core team together. We are grateful to God for the many ways he has guided us and provided for us. We have needed to depend on him, conscious that while we have a plan, it is God’s work and not ours and only he can make things grow.
How has God enabled the core team and the church to move forward?
Our core team has grown slowly as people have heard about the vision and wanted to be part of it. We have been encouraged by the people God has brought to us. As a family, we moved home last February and started meeting midweek from March. Sunday worship began in our conservatory in May. We then began meeting in a school lecture theatre from September. In December we moved into a church cafe area, where we are currently meeting. Each stage has seen steady growth as we work towards launching, God willing, at Easter 2019.
Christ Church Glasgow receives support in different ways from several church-planting organisations including Generation, in what way have these networks helped you?
We have been very grateful for the support we have received. Generation has provided church planting training through the church planting incubator. A group meets every month to work through a course on church planting principles and practices. As well as the stimulation the reading provides, the opportunity for peer support, coaching and prayer have been vital. This, combined with the partnership we enjoy with Hope Free Church, Coatbridge give good fellowship and accountability. The wider networks we’re part of are a great reminder that whilst there is a great spiritual need in our own nation, we are part of the unstoppable mission of Jesus Christ, as he builds his church across the globe.
What challenges have you faced over the past year?
The biggest challenges have related to perceptions, premises and people. While church planting is biblical, the perceptions of what we are doing, why we are doing it and where we are doing it have needed constant communication to allay misunderstanding and suspicion. We have found searching for premises very hard work. Church planting is not about the building where you meet, but finding a suitable venue and strategic location is a challenge. As we are still small, losing people is a big challenge. We are very sad to be saying goodbye to a great family who’ve been with us since the beginning, due to work.
How do you see the church growing and developing over the next five years?
We still talk about being in the pre-launch phase. At the moment we are aiming to grow our Christian core group to a critical mass before launching. This time gives us the opportunity to work on shaping our worship services as well as develop a culture of being a church not just for ourselves but for those who wouldn’t normally go to church. Ultimately, we want the church to grow through conversions since there is no point planting a new church if we are not reaching new people for Christ. As we currently get some support from our North-American partner churches, we want to reach sustainability before too long. Somewhere in the process we will need a suitable permanent venue in north-west Glasgow. We also see the need to work on developing leaders who share the same DNA so that, in time, we can resource other church plants across Glasgow.
How can the wider church pray for you and the team at Christ Church Glasgow?
• Pray for the growth of our core team. We still seek more Christians who will be committed to the vision of planting a church to reach new people.
• Pray for wisdom in deciding on the most strategic location. While we’re grateful to have our current venue on a trial basis, we are still considering other possibilities (including a football stadium!)
• Pray for faithfulness in our evangelism. We can’t neglect this as it is the foundation for everything else we do right now and in the future. We are aware that we need to keep sharing the good news about Jesus within our relationship networks (friends, colleagues, neighbours, family).
• Pray also for fruitfulness in all our work for the Lord. We want to see new believers and the church grow through conversions. We want to be disciple-making disciples who will be part of churches that plant churches.