The Joshua Centre is a joint initiative between the Cathedral and the Diocese, which was set up in 2017 to support the start-up and development of new congregations. The purpose of these new congregations is to reach out to new groups of people who are not engaging with more traditional church structures and services. It is being funded for 5 years by the Church Commissioners’ Strategic Development Fund.
The primary objective of the Joshua Centre is to start thirty New Congregations in five years. We believe that growing a bigger church will make a bigger difference, but this can be creative and it doesn’t have to be ‘church’ in the traditional sense. To achieve this goal, the Joshua Centre is providing New Congregations with seed funding, initial training and ongoing coaching for leadership, accountability and growth. The aim of this is for 900 people to become ‘New Disciples’ across the Diocese of Liverpool, which we define as people who were previously (i.e. before this new congregation started) ignoring or walking away from Jesus, but who are now (i.e. since meeting people from this congregation) paying attention to and walking towards Jesus.
The hope is that by listening to and getting to know people in the local community, new groups will spring forth, as an understanding of their interests is assimilated and new groups form around this learning. This should continue over time as attendees and New Disciples start to catch the vision of the Joshua Centre, eventually becoming new leaders themselves, who will be assisted by the mentoring and coaching available and supported in leadership teams, leading to ‘multiplying congregations’.
If we want to see a bigger church, which is making a bigger difference, some of us will have to do some things differently. However, before we get started, we need to make sure we all agree about what we mean by the word: 'Congregation'.
New Congregations gather together on different days, and in different places. They have different approaches to mission, leadership, discipleship and worship. They should be as diverse as the different groups of people whom they serve.
We don't just want to increase the number of worship events - we want to see new communities of disciples growing out of contextually sensitive mission to new groups of people. This is a much more daring approach than most of us are used to.
Every new venture brings with it a new set of challenges. Some love this, while others find it quite stressful. The Joshua Centre is here to offer you whatever support, encouragement and resourcing you need to get things off to a great start.