I recently had the privilege of observing the work of 20 Schemes, a church planting ministry in Scotland. Working out of Scotland’s housing schemes -think American housing projects on a bigger scale, they build church planting teams, train leaders and develop resources.
We believe that building healthy, gospel-preaching churches in Scotland’s poorest communities will bring true, sustainable, and long-term renewal to Scotland’s schemes. ~20 Schemes
During my visit I was able to see many aspects of the ministry’s operations. I participated in a Vision Trip, which is an overview of the entire ministry for churches considering partnering with 20 Schemes. This happened in conjunction with a Weekender or training conference that gathered leaders, church attenders and interested parties from around the UK. After the weekend I stayed on with a family working in a scheme in Edinburgh and got to participate in the day to day ministry of a core team in the process of planting as well as at the main sending church, Niddrie Community Church.
Based on everything I saw I am confident in endorsing and advocating for this ministry. While I could give countless reasons these 7 things repeatedly jumped out at me.
- Unity in the body. I wont drag this out but all the reasons that apply to engaging in any missions apply here. I will go into ‘cultural sameness’ in a moment but here I want to highlight the mission ‘sameness’ that happens cross-culturally. 20 Schemes is engaging the exact same mission in Scotland’s schemes that churches are trying to engage in American suburbs and inner-cities – to make disciples that make disciples. In an increasingly polarized evangelical landscape seeing the single mission of God being played out across the world is refreshing and encouraging
- A unique need that requires outside support. In American church planting most new churches are expected to be self-supporting within three years. Due to plating within the poorest communities that could not happen in the schemes. Not only because giving is not going to be as high but also because expenses are much higher. One church planter put the time line in the schemes to be around 10 years to self sufficiency. This seems about right. Matthew Spandler-Davison the executive director of 20 Schemes also pointed out that many missions organizations are pulling out of the UK due to the high cost of operations and unfavorable exchange rate, “You can send several missionaries to South America for the same amount of one in Scotland.” Spandler also points out that the UK is uniquely positioned as the new front line of missions. With the encroachment and growth of Islam and the re-positioning of many Christian resources to the 10/40 window, the UK needs our support more then ever. So why support 20 Schemes over other agencies? …
- 20 Schemes is uniquely positioned. With years of faithful ministry in Scotland and intentional efforts to partner with gospel workers already in the field 20 schemes has the infrastructure and longevity to see their vision come to fruition. Beyond that they have a existing and expanding network of global connections and are uniquely positioned to make a global impact. While focused on their work in Scotland’s schemes the coming and going of speakers, interns, media and print resources this ministry has a significant global reach on top of connection to local communities.
- 20 Schemes is uniquely qualified. There are no short cuts to experience. The time spent in the trenches is clearly evident for this ministry. 20 Schemes is a beautiful combination of good doctrine and good practice. It seems that most ministries are either ‘paper strong’ or ‘people strong’. I don’t think I would even fault a ministry for being one or the other it is hard to do both especially with limited resources, but 20 Schemes skillfully delegates, builds robust teams and puts people to work where they are gifted. This results in organizational and discipleship structures that are quite impressive. You do not get this organized by reading the latest Christian best seller on church planting models. While they will be the first to admit they are still learning, I would say that they have a solid yet flexible enough foundation to support them through growth that lays immediately ahead of them.
- Partners benefit from ‘cultural sameness’. If we can have a self-centered moment, then one of the reasons that you should partner with 20 Schemes is because it will highly benefit you, your church, your context. The culture is so similar to American culture it lends to much better carry over back into your home mission field. From the music, to the cultural problems, to the language, we have more in common with the Scots then we differ. You should walk away saying there is no reason that we couldn’t be doing this back home. The biggest divide is likely to class-driven. If you are not already engaged in ministry to people struggling with poverty, addiction or broken families then there maybe some culture shock, but even still anyone looking to see the commonalities will definitely make connections. You should partner with 20 Schemes because when you send people to Scotland on mission they will return better able to go on mission in their neighborhoods.
- If you could only use the Bible to design seminary you would come up with the 20 Schemes model. They aren’t saying this, I am. For me this is the most significant reason you should financially support the work that is taking place through 20 Schemes. I went to Scotland hungry to learn about their “indigenous training program.” Like a normal American I kept waiting for the one presentation, manual or possibly even an entire kit that came with a leaders guide and DVDs to explain a program that I could take home and neatly apply in my context. I admit to feeling a bit dense as it took nearly 4 days into the trip to realize that the ‘program’ is much less a manual and much more a life style. Training up leaders is ingrained into every aspect of the work that is done. From the moment of conversion believers are brought into accountable, discipling relationships. Everyone gets full training on what the Gospel is and all believers are invited to do deeper through structured discipleship courses. Some leaders take classes at a local colleges but no one is removed from the mission field for training. In fact just as quickly as structured learning begins so also hands-on, apprenticeship style training begins. Outreach, evangelism, teaching, community service, youth work and so much more, everyone gets their hands dirty and grows in gospel ministry experience not just head knowledge. I have often said that an unequipt, unempowered laity is akin to the missing middle class and is a big problem for the American church culture. 20 Schemes has discovered how to rise-up and release everyday believers and we have much to learn from them. They haven’t set out to be a seminary they are simply making disciples. The 20 Schemes model is the out pouring of what happens when you take that call seriously and have faith that the average person or for that matter the margins of society can do a great deal more then think they can.
- They are the real deal. If you want to come learn about the New Creations Inn program the program director and I can sit you down and give you the full core value, history, mission statement presentation and you will walk away with a good idea of what we want the program to be, but to really find out about the program we encourage people to ask our residents what they think about the program, to express our core values in their own words and explain how what they learn is lived out in their lives. If you want an even better picture come stay in a room, share life with us then you will really see what we are about-the proof is in the pudding as they say. That was what I got to do with 20 Schemes and what I learned is that they are the real deal. Gospel centered, prayer driven, self-sacrificing, hard working, people loving, imperfect God- glorifying servants. They have no magic formula or powers they are just doing the slow steady work of the Gospel and they are doing it very well.
For these reasons and many more I would be happy to share with you, you should support the work of 20 Schemes.
If you would like to know more visit 20schemes.com and follow them on Facebook
If you are interested in the type of work that happens over in the Schemes but are not ready to take a trip all the way to Scotland I would encourage you to consider a “missions trip” or internship to New Creations Inn where we also strive to do the slow steady work of the Gospel. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested.