As Bishop of Islington, Ric Thorpe oversees London’s church growth strategy to plant 100 churches in London by 2020 and 200 city-center church-planting churches around the country by 2030. As a church planter himself, Ric delights in working alongside his wife Louie to make disciple-making-disciples in new and re-vitalized churches.
“My main work is culture change,” Ric said. “I’m trying to help people imagine themselves more as a missionary church, as opposed to just sustaining what has always gone before.”
Ric helps churches discover and pray into God’s vision for their future, whether that’s growing themselves, planting a new church, or re-vitalizing declining churches. If their goal is to re-vitalize an existing church, he talks about “honoring the past, navigating change in the present, and building for the future”. His goal is not just to have a growing church, but churches growing everywhere.
“My main focus is in London,” he said, “In a local area, where there are perhaps 16-20 churches already on the ground, we want to help them re-imagine how they might do mission. Is there a school you can partner with, or plant in a café? We need new congregations to reach new people, in new places, in new ways.”
Ric and his team have already started a number of international churches as well and are in the process of launching a Turkish and French-speaking church.
Ric uses a training structure based on a four-part quadrant that works through the authority, leadership, context, and resources to plant. Ric helps churches develop a planting strategy that thinks through the necessary people, time and money required.
“Through prayer, God gives insight into how we develop people for particular places,” he said. “We need a different kind of leader in city centers, compared to inner-city areas, suburbs or rural areas.”
As part of the process, Ric encourages church planters to create a church planting wish list, similar to a wedding registry of needed resources to successfully complete the plant. This list not only includes finances, but also training and equipment.
“Overall, this structure is very flexible, but it guides our thinking to help people break through what needs to be done,” Ric said.