Father of three Andy Hodson knows a thing or two about church plants – having helped to establish five communities in the past 12 years.
Andy, a Counties evangelist and an elder at Church in the Community in the West Midlands, has planted four churches across the Black Country and one a little further afield — in Zimbabwe.
The church meets in a community café above a local convenience store and it aims to serve the community throughout the week with various activities, including The Stripey Oss Café which serves bargain breakfasts, lunches and drinks.
Can you describe the journey to planting Church in the Community?
We are a church plant of Crestwood Church, which I planted in 2004, with a team of six people from Wall Heath Evangelical Free Church. After seeing God bless this first plant we believed God for more. So four of us, set out to plant Lakeside Church. We met in various locations across the estate and grew through evangelism, discipleship and community outreach.
We set up small groups to share the gospel and the Bible, whilst encouraging others to follow us in missional thinking. We changed the name of the church to ‘Church in the Community’ when God gave us a clear vision to plant other communities under one church; not a denomination but a network of churches that connect under mission.
What is the vision for the church?
To reach the people of Stourbridge through our new church plant. We want to make disciples by building community. We feel called to reach the unchurched where they are. We are less about Sunday and more about all the week. We believe the church is the people and mission is every day and in every sphere of life. Therefore, we want to gather and scatter throughout the week wherever we find people of peace and those open to the message of the gospel.
How did CPI help you in your journey?
It is still early days, but I get some financial support, advice and through the hub meetings, good fellowship and mentorship
Your hub has multiplied, how did that happen?
Yes, we have another CPI hub in a different area of Birmingham. There are a number of people in the hub that have been mentored, trained and supported, some through direct training and others through coaching.
What would your advice be to someone who feels a call from God to set up a church in their community?
Find others who have the same vision; build a team and get the support of a local church. Leadership is key; capacity is small without it.
What are the highs and lows of church planting?
Hard work, takes a lot of commitment, failure can follow risk-taking, many times you journey with people and many fall away. But the privilege is discipling those, who once had no understanding of Christ, that go on to disciple others and follow Him.