Here’s a version of the ActBC newsletter I sent out today. If you are interested in becoming a prayer partner/supporting any of these church planting/replanting initiatives please drop get in touch via the contact form
It has been a little while since I sent round an update on our attempts to encourage urban church planting and revitalisation. So, as there are two or three key pieces of news, this seemed like a good time to update.
It will be five years this January since Jose and Patti turned up at the Chapel New Year prayer meeting. They had come with their son as asylum seekers and begun attending Raglan Road Christian Church which is about 15 minutes’ walk from the Chapel. Jose had begun to meet with some other South Americans for Bible study, a number of whom were attending the Chapel. The Saturday night Bible study quickly grew and Jose asked if they could meet at the Chapel
Five years on and people have come and gone, there have been plenty of ups and downs but Nueva Vida is now established as an independent local church. Jose and Patti have been granted asylum and been able to open their own little Mexican restaurant in Bearwood. We have seen so many answers to prayer and in the last couple of years that has included baptisms. Jose continues to run regular ESOL classes when COVID regulations permit and he has also helped organise practical support during lockdown for a number of people in need. He has just started a part time HE course in theology and evangelism.
After lockdown, Nueva Vida will be looking for a permanent home where they can meet for worship at the weekends and run midweek ministries.
West Smethwick Congregational Church
Tom Martin has now moved up to Smethwick with his family and they are being joined by David and Moira Baldwin. David is currently the missions course director at Oak Hill Theological College. The aim is to see a full replant of the church which is located in a needy, multicultural community within walking distance of one of Europe’s largest Sikh Gurdwaras.
Tom has begun meeting on Sundays for a Bible study with some of the remaining members of the original congregation.
In the New Year, their aim is to begin conversations with a number of potential people to join the core team. If you currently live or work in the West Midlands or are considering moving this way, we would love to put you in touch with Tom to see whether or not the re-plant could be somewhere you could get involved with.
New Horizons for us
You will no doubt have seen that Sarah and I will be moving on from Bearwood Chapel in the new year. We don’t know our final destination yet but we are looking at one or two possible opportunities. Whatever direction we take, a commitment to encouraging urban mission and church planting will remain a firm part of all that we do.
Our options include a couple of possibilities where I would take up a traditional pastorate or join an established church team. Those opportunities seem to be mainly in the south or east of the country. However, we have also been investigating possible pioneer church planting opportunities. We are particularly looking at West Yorkshire at the moment where there is a great need, especially in my home city of Bradford and the surrounding districts. If we pursue this direction then it is likely to involve raising support for me and for others, recruiting potential fellow church planters and getting involved in training and equipping others. There is also scope for some partnership with an existing church in cross cultural mission. We will be making a decision in early 2021 about whether this or one of the other openings is the right direction for us to go in.
It is likely that any move will be a little later in 2021 once COVID-19 has hopefully begun to settle down. This means the first few months of the year will be a little freer and more flexible for me. I intend to use that time to do some further writing and to work on developing more faithroots resources including more YouTube and facebook live content. If there are any topics or themes that you would find helpful, please let us know.
How can you help?
The first thing that anyone can do is to pray for urban church planting. Please also consider ways in which you can get this onto your church’s agenda and part of the agenda for prayer meetings and Home Groups. There is much to pray for as you can see for the two churches mentioned above. Bearwood Chapel is also going through a challenging transition as we move on so please pray for the church family here. Sarah and I would appreciate your prayers for wise and timely discernment. Please pray too for some of those lesser reached, less glamourous areas where there is a need for Gospel work including The Black Country, Wolverhampton, Bradford, Halifax, Huddersfield and Batley and the Spen Valley.
Secondly, Gospel work in urban areas is likely to need long term financial support. Please get in touch if you would like to know how you can support one of these particular areas.
Thirdly, all of these urban areas need people who love them enough to come and join a local church plant. Could you relocate to Smethwick? Is Bradford within commuting distance of the office? Could you begin ministry training with Crosslands or Union next autumn whilst starting to help a plant.
Please get in touch if you are interested in finding out more about the part you can play