In April 2014 I posted on whether we really need new churches. You can read what I wrote here – hopefully there is something for all sides to learn, whether the the new churches or the more established churches.
In the early part of this year, I’m planning to post a short series of articles introducing a number of church planters. Today, the series kicks off with Gary Bolton from The Journey Church in Lisburn.
Gary is 36 and has been married to Kathryn for 14 years. They have five children. Neither Gary nor Kathryn was a believer when they first met, but they both came to faith within a few months of each other around 17 years ago. Gary has been preaching for 16 years and between 1998 and summer of 2014 he worked with Revival Movement Association. He has an undergraduate degree from the Irish Baptist College and is now working on an MTh through QUB. Since September he has been employed full time by the Journey Church in Lisburn.
Tell us about your church – where is it, when did it start, how is it going?
The Journey Church began meeting in Lagan Valley Leisureplex on a Sunday morning from January 12th 2014. However, for about a year and a half before that we met as a very small group for a midweek bible study. The first year was particularly tough with no numerical growth – it was tiring and at times discouraging. However, I always had a deep conviction that growth and development would come. During the summer of 2013 our numbers were doubled and from this time forth our church has steadily grown. During 2014 it was a particular joy for us to baptise 5 ladies in the Leisureplex swimming pool – this was a great evening of testimony and rejoicing.
Tell us about your sense of call and vision for this new work
Since my conversion I’ve always had a sense of calling to church leadership which I worked out over many years. The small seed for church planting was sown in my heart during July 2011. A short time later I received clear direction from God through His Word. I watered this seed with prayer and counsel before stepping out in faith with a small bible study in September 2012. Our vision is to be relational, intentional and missional – see our website for a more thorough explanation of this vision.
What are some of your hopes for the church in 2015?
To continue working hard at the missional aspect of our church life. The Journey has a wonderful sense of community and love and we want our non-Christian friends to see and experience this love and hope that comes through Jesus Christ. Our main goal in 2015 is to become more prayerfully focused in our evangelism.
How would you like to be able to relate to other, more established churches in your community?
There are existing churches in Lisburn who have been faithfully proclaiming the gospel for many years and we praise God for them. We want to be an encouragement to other churches and we need their encouragement too. I’ve already made contact with a number of church leaders in our city for fellowship during 2014 and this is something I plan to develop further in the year ahead. Partnership with other evangelical churches is something I desire to see more of across our city.
To find out more about the work of the Journey Church, you visit their website.