Our first church-planting conference, [CO]MISSION UK, was held July 8–10 at Christchurch in Newport, Wales. Dave Harvey spoke at the conference along with Pete Greasley, senior pastor of Christchurch. Pete is responsible for international church planting and care on behalf of Sovereign Grace Ministries in Australia, Germany, Africa, India, Sri Lanka, and the UK.
For an update on the [CO]MISSION UK conference, I asked Pete a few questions.
C.J. Mahaney: I’ll begin with a broader question. Among young pastors in the U.S. we see a trend toward what is commonly referred to as “young, restless, and Reformed.” What is the theological climate among the young pastors and church planters you see in the UK?
Pete Greasley: In recent years, I’ve become increasingly aware of a stirring among young men in the UK to “do something” for the gospel. There’s been a gradual growing in awareness—particularly amongst men in their early to mid twenties—for the need to plant gospel-centred churches both here and elsewhere in the world. I’m also aware of many guys who have already planted churches and desire encouragement and input in how to best apply the gospel in their church situations. From my perspective, this is an exciting time!
CJM: So last month you hosted the [CO]MISSION UK Conference. I hear it was well attended. Were you surprised by how many attended?
PG: Very much so. We anticipated about 30–40 men, partly due to the specificity of the conference (men who believed they may be called to church planting or who were already leading a church plant), and also because we didn’t think that Sovereign Grace was that well known over here. When 120 men booked in we were extremely surprised and genuinely humbled that such men of calibre were willing to take time off work and travel to the conference.
CJM: Who showed up and what do those guys represent?
PG: There was a real spectrum of attendees, from experienced church planters to new university graduates exploring a sense of call to church planting. But the unifying factor amongst them was a desire to play a part in seeing new churches planted and wanting those churches to truly represent the gospel and still be here in 10, 50, 100 years time! I was particularly encouraged by the sobriety, as well as the passion, that these men demonstrated in desiring to build churches that glorify God. God was kind to us in allowing us to influence and be influenced by these passionate men.
CJM: What immediate fruit did you see from the conference? What long-term fruit do you hope for?
PG: As the conference drew nearer, our prayer was that it would be the beginning of relationships that God would use for the furtherance of his kingdom. God was pleased to answer that prayer—we met some remarkable men, and our hope in the short term is that these relationships will provide a context for us to continue to learn from and serve these men. But in the longer term, I hope that we’ll be able to play a strategic part in the birthing of new churches throughout this country. Our desire is that in God’s providence, he would use [CO]MISSION UK to inspire men to plant churches that will bring much glory to God and will stand the test of time. If we can serve towards that endeavour, even in some small way, it will be an incredible privilege. Soli Deo Gloria.
Thank you, Pete.
The audio and video recordings from the conference can be downloaded from comissionuk.org.
For more about Pete, see my interview with him: Meet Pete Greasley.