Have you ever felt like a square peg in a round hole when attending a church service?
When Ignite Church first started on Moorland estate it was affectionately known as the original Chav Church, although if you’re keen on history you might find that the concept is not a new one. Throughout church history there has been an ebb and flow of breakthrough moments, known among the international church as revivals. Pretty much all of these breakthrough moments have come about when the church has been more intentional about focussing their message delivery and style on reaching the common folk in their community.
In 2010 Darren Edwards, our founder and current church leader in Lincoln, began studying at Regents Theological College with a desire to see churches established on housing estates in the UK. Darren’s aim was to bring a relevant breakthrough church to people that wouldn’t normally attend services for several different reasons. For some people church is too far away. Others feel isolated from church culture because they come from a different class or people group to the majority of church goers. Still others have just never encountered God in a real way before.
Coming from a housing estate and wanting to reach people like himself, Darren learnt about mission and history finding that there had previously been breakthrough moments on estates like his in the UK. Through the work of great men of God, like Evan Roberts, Smith Wigglesworth and George Jeffreys, our whole nation had seen a breakthrough moment. In fact, our denomination (Elim) and others had been birthed on the back of these breakthrough moments.
Wanting to emulate what had been done in the past, Darren began to pioneer Ignite Elim Church, also known as Chav Church by people all over the UK.
The word ‘chav’ when used to describe church in this way represents our desire to reach people that feel alienated from church because of the difference in culture. The word actually means ‘working class’ by definition, and well known political writer, Owen Jones, says that even people with money and aspirations can be called ‘chav’ if they have friends who are working class, or come from a working class school or area.
With that in mind, to fully understand who Chav Church might be aimed at you might list some job titles: builders, carpenters, farmers, admin staff, mechanics, cleaners and care workers. Not that we wouldn’t welcome bankers and politicians too, although they may feel like a mechanic in a traditional church.
In the time that Ignite Church has been in Lincoln we have seen many people come to faith. In fact, we stopped counting at one hundred decisions to follow Jesus, and started looking at those that are growing in the depth of their faith. We believe that we are to go on being saved, and that salvation isn’t a one time emotional decision.
Today we are one church with many expressions. With the same desire to reach the unreached, and see a new breakthrough moment in our city and nation, you may find us meeting in the local coffee shop, pub or community centre with an organic feel and Holy Spirit atmosphere. Whilst we still aim for authentic in our personalities and style of church, many more people have joined our mission from different backgrounds, and so we reach out to many different groups, classes, races and nationalities. We even have different styles of spirituality on different days of the week to fully express our Christian faith.
Over the years we have been really active in our community. Our first community project was a little allotment patch which we did an awful job at looking after, and one day our neighbour offered us twelve cabbages that they had too many of. That day we went knocking on doors in the local area giving away free cabbages.
Shortly after we were offered some other food from another local charity and we gave that away. Before long we were giving away surplus food from supermarkets in Lincoln. We’ve continued to do this throughout our time in Lincoln. It’s now been nearly a decade of doing so. The peak this ministry was in 2021 when a huge company offered to give us their surplus food from a national warehouse. We found ourselves organising a van that would pick up around three pallets of food each day and then distribute it among the estates of Lincoln and Hykeham. We estimate that in 2021 we gave away well over half a million pounds worth of food in our neighbourhoods.
In 2018 we took on the management of two libraries in our city. Birchwood library is one of the largest community libraries in the county, and Boultham library is a great space in the community too. We renamed each community hub as Breakthrough Centres, in keeping with our vision and original plan. Today we host all sorts of different community groups and give them free space. We have built a community cafe in each, which get used as warm spaces during the winter. The libraries are both open for two days a week. We even have local startup businesses using our spaces to work out of, and Lincoln Polish School who teach children the Polish language and heritage.
We host loads of community events and also have a furniture and removal project, lending out our vans from time to time for people that can’t afford to hire one when moving furniture from one place to another. We resource the city. We resource the church in the city… We resource the Christians in the city to do the work of God in their local community and we do it all at no cost. Everything we do and have is at the disposal of God’s kingdom advocates totally free of charge.
As you might have already gathered by our videos and interviews with local media, our church services are slightly different to what you might find at some traditional churches. This isn’t to say that we are better than anyone else, but just that we are different.
Our services do not look the same each week, as we try to freshen things up with a relevant liturgy, sometimes putting preaching or worship to one side in order to focus our attention on what God wants from our service. You will also notice that we aim to be authentic in our walk with God, as our preachers don’t wear suits and ties, but choose to wear the same clothes on Sunday as they do on a Monday morning for example. Basically, we want the average person to be given the opportunity to meet with God in their own way, and to feel comfortable.
Our services also encompass a chance for your children to learn about God, and spirituality, in a way that is relevant to them. Our team of children’s workers is led by someone that is trained to work with children, and DBS checked. We care as much about your child’s spiritual experience as we do about our own.
Sundays for Ignite Church are about people that have never been to church before feeling comfortable and hearing a message that relates to them personally. Our team are trained in storytelling and learning Bible stories well enough to tell them without having to read their Bible out in the congregation. The hope is that you’ll not be made to feel like a bad person/Christian if you don’t have a Bible with you when the preacher says “let’s turn to…” We have a bouncy castle every week. We always have free tea and coffee, and often stay behind for food and chat after church too.
We also have a church service on Mondays… Monday is all about bringing quality Christian Bible teaching to the church. Obviously everyone is very welcome, but this is definitely the service where you want to bring your Bible with you. The music on a Monday is a little more traditional in style, and we teach the Bible instead of preaching (like a Sunday). This often looks like a lecture with members of the congregation asking questions and participating in the lecture itself.
Finally, we have a church service on a Tuesday too… Tuesday is our supernatural service. We focus heavily on prophecy, and we practice healing and deliverance. Some weeks we will spend most of the evening in worship and prophetic preaching, but quite often we’ll leave the preaching aside and engage in prophetic activations and workshops. We believe that we have been tasked with raising up school of Prophets in Lincolnshire, and we take this really seriously.
Darren is an ordained minister with the Elim Pentecostal Church, and has a degree in Applied theology with Regents Theological College and is currently studying for his Masters Degree. Dr Laura is a Clinical Psychologist for the NHS.
April has studied theology at Regents Theological College. After completing our internship program 2021 April joined our team as a trainee Pastor and has been serving the church based in Boultham primarily.
Adrian is currently studying theology at Regents Theological College, and has an undergrad degree in Philosophy. Adrian has been part of a discipleship journey with Pastor Darren since 2020 and is now starting the process to apply for Elim ministry.
Liam has been taking a lead on the youth work at Ignite Elim Church since 2020, and currently leads Passion which is a thriving youth group, followed by Deeper (looking into the Christian faith) on Friday evenings with the young people. Liam is also studying for a Masters in Mechanical Engineering in his spare time.