I want to see this whole city saved for Jesus
Darren Edwards is the pastor of a church with a difference. But despite having to face challenges and attacks, he won’t allow them stop his passion to reach the lost.
Dressed-down preachers, loud music and a down-to-earth approach to evangelism is what’s working for Darren Edwards and the team at Ignite Church, Lincoln.
Having grown up in a tough housing estate himself, Darren’s church is now established in three of the most challenging areas of Lincoln. So how does a ‘chav’ church differ from your typical place of worship?
“The main difference would be the way I communicate is a lot more targeted to unchurched people who mostly come to our services,” Darren says.
“Also, the guys who preach at Ignite Church tend to dress a bit more down to earth and we use loud recorded music instead of having a worship band.
“We see a Sunday service as an evangelistic opportunity to reach the lost. Every week we preach the gospel. Every week we pray for the sick. I know a lot of churches before might not be quite so evangelistic on a Sunday morning but other than that I don’t think there’s any difference between us and any other church really.”
While Ignite is reaching into some of the darker places in Lincoln, Darren says their church comes under constant attack.
“We’ve had loads of opposition. For example, recently I started noticing that every time I turned up to church there’d be some weird pile of sticks. So, I got rid of it and then it was there again every week. Then I discovered it’s a wiccan hex or curse. So, we see that sort of stuff, quite a lot of dark spiritual stuff happening.
“We’ve also had threats against my children, against my family, against our church and our leadership. I had a text message in the middle of the night recently from someone saying they were a satanist, they were a friend of Satan and they wanted to take me out.”
Despite these challenges, Darren says it’s his passion to reach the lost that spurs him on. “The biggest driving force for me is seeing people come to faith,” he says. “We get loads of that here. One lady came to our church five years ago and had struggled in the standard traditional church.
“After just two weeks she made a commitment to follow Jesus. She said that she had a vision of someone standing on the other side of her door and knocking. Just as she had this vision, I stood up on a Sunday morning and said, ‘Hey, Jesus is standing at the door and he’s knocking on the door of your heart.’
“So, she immediately responded. I think that the long- term commitment that we’ve got to our estate has led this lady to a place where she’s sorted in her faith, she’s stopped drinking, she started tithing, she follows Jesus wholeheartedly and she volunteers as much as she can. And in a few weeks, we’re hoping to have an AGM where she’ll become a deacon, and I can’t wait. You know that’s the driving force.”
Darren’s long-term vision for Ignite Church is clear and far- reaching: “It’s simply that none should perish. I want to see this whole city saved for Jesus; and not just this city but my region and my nation.
“I also want to raise up leaders to plant new churches. I’ve got keys to two more buildings right this second that are desperate for us to go and plant in them.
“ People are calling on us to go and start new churches in Birmingham, Bradford and Manchester. But as Jesus once said the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. So, the long-term goal is to keep on winning the lost!”
New church just for young people
Ignite has also launched its own youth church in a third location in the city. Darren adds, “We’ve got three churches at the moment.
“Our third one is a youth church that we started two and a half years ago and that’s in another building alto- gether at a YMCA centre. There are about 40 kids who come each week. Recently two brothers came running in with black caps on and they said, ‘I’m you Darren.’ It put such a smile on my face because I’m thinking this is what it’s all about... seeing these young lads who just want to be like their pastor, which is amazing.”
Place to ‘call home’ after lease success
Ignite Church has recently been awarded the lease for two library buildings.
“We’re right in the centre of two communities at the moment,” Darren says.
“For the first time ever, we have a place to call home, and not just one but two! I used to have to transport all our equipment each week from our house. But now we open up, put some coffee on, flip some switches and church is ready... it’s amazing. It’s such a blessing now to be able to have our own building. It’s just so wonderful.”
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