What is the Outer Estates Project?
M:Power is full of amazingly talented people, each giving of their skills, knowledge, and passions to make M:Power the incredible movement it is. At the front line we have the M:Power Team A whole variety of skilled and passionate people offer training and teaching inputs through the year. The team and the project are supported by the M:Power Project Board. But more than that, M:Power is the people called and committed to serve our urban estates as lay or ordained minters.
Training is at the heart of what M:Power is about. We want to train lay, ordained and ordinands in Urban Evangelism and ministry. And we do that through a number of different routes, including a year long training programme for lay urban evangelists, and ordinand placements.
M:Power employs two Urban Evangelists who are the living embodiment of M:Power. They walk the walk each day in their communities and bring real life into the conversation and discussions about being church in our urban estates. They are innovators and evangelists, taking over spaces in their communities to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to the estates in a wide variety of ways. Our news section will regular feature what they’re up to and how they’re getting along.
Why is it happening here?
In Vision 2026, the Diocese of Blackburn has set itself a bold and ambitious plan. The heart of the vision is to make disciples, be witnesses and to grow leaders. However, over the last decade, there has been a slow withdrawal from the outer estates of Lancashire’s largest towns, with churches being closed or clergy leaving. Often ministry is hardest in these areas and is difficult to fund. This project attempts to reverse this trend and re-invest in outer estates by:
- releasing, empowering and equipping leaders,
- being a visible presence in the communities
- engaging in the communities
- introducing people to the Good News of Jesus and making disciples.
The team here have a wealth of experience in ministry in urban, outer estates ministry and of developing leaders in these contexts. Therefore, the diocese has asked the three churches host the project, along with other partners.
Who is involved?
- We are! The three churches – St. James’ Lower Darwen, St. Paul’s Hoddlesden and St. James’ Over Darwen. Part of this project involves learning from what we are already doing as a church with outer estates. Although the churches do not bear the overall responsibility for the project, the churches will play a large part in the project.
- Blackburn Diocese – oversee finances, HR, provide support and skills
- The Church Commissioners, who support the work and mission of the Church of England today have provided the money for the project. They will therefore want to make sure it is spent well and doing what we said we would do.
- 2 Urban Evangelists who will be employed on the project to make Jesus accessible to the modern generation through urban ministry.
- Other people from the local communities such as teachers in the local schools, other local clergy, and other local organisations.
An Executive Board, made up of representatives from all the above, oversee, guide and implement the project.
How does it happen?
- The project has funding for 6 years.
- The project employs two full-time ‘Urban Evangelists’ to live and work on our Outer Estates – namely Higher croft/Roman Road and Over Darwen.
- The Urban Evangelists job is to make Christ accessible to the modern generation through Urban ministry and to place the Church at the centre of the community through effective engagement with all communities in the parish. They will also train and support: students training for ordained ministry, church leadership teams and members of congregations in Outer Estates Ministry.
- They will spend 25% of their time teaching in the training unit and 75% of their time engaging and investing in Highercroft or Over Darwen, sometimes taking students with them to learn on the job.
- One of the outcomes of the project is that they expect around 300+ new people to start following Jesus!
- If the project is successful, it is hoped that what we learn can be transferred to other dioceses and other Outer estates across the country.
Who is the training for?
The training is for lots of different people:
- People in our congregations who would like to learn more about ministry in an urban context, evangelism, leadership etc. Maybe that’s you?
- People in our diocese who would like to learn more about ministry in a urban context, evangelism, leadership etc.
- People who are thinking about becoming Vicars and are exploring what God is calling them to do.
- Students who are training for Ordination and would like to train in an urban, outer estates context.
Training opportunities are advertised to clergy and church members in the diocese and beyond, and in existing training colleges who need Urban Ministry experience. All costs will be covered by the project.
Where do I fit in?
- Pray! Pray lots as this a big project!
- Support and love the students who come to train with us.
- Get involved in new ministries – it isn’t just about the urban evangelists – they will need help and support in all that God calls them to do.
- Maybe you’d like to join the M:Power training programme or know someone who would be interested.
If you’d like more information on the project and how the project will work or would like to be involved then do speak to Rev Rebecca..