Billy Kennedy told church planters in Bath today that his network had planted many house churches but was beginning to rediscover the value of church buildings as a little piece of heaven for the communities in which they are located.
“There are many little buildings around our nation looking like they are dead but I want to prophesy over them and say that new life surely can come to you,” he said.
Mr Kennedy told the Mission21 conference of a time when his church in Southampton had closed its doors for a nine month renovation and sent its members out to hold church services elsewhere in the community. Some of the members discovered dwindling congregations in the local churches and decided to stay and help them to revive.
“As we went out we saw fruit … When we decided to come back together again not everyone came back,” he said.
Mr Kennedy admitted he was sad to so many old church buildings being sold off and turned into flats or restaurants.
“Our forefathers laboured for these places. They are our family heritage, our family jewels. Why give them away?” he said.
“My plea is whatever tradition you are from, if you have buildings there are groups of people around who could come in and reignite them. Keep them in the family.”
He called on the church to forget competition and suspicion and share more – their buildings, time, resources and people.
“God is able to take something desolate and deserted and bring new life into it. God is able by the Holy Spirit to transform dead situations. That’s what the resurrection is all about. We win when it looks like we are losing.”
Kennedy’s address wrapped up three days of talks and streams on the challenges and opportunities for church planting in the UK today.
Co-organiser Martin Robinson of Together in Mission said the conference had started a conversation on church planting that he hoped would continue into the future.
He said: “It’s exciting to see that there is no one model of church planting. There are men, women, young, old, people of all ages planting churches and it’s indicative of a movement that only God could operate.”