We are a tiny Church that longs to reach out with the gospel . We have no full time ministry staff, no paid staff, no ministry trainees, no administrators, no permanent building, a minuscule budget, not much courage but a deep awareness of the need to evangelise our area. I have previously described our Church as a plant but two couples beginning from scratch doesn’t really fit the strategy or preconceptions that term describes — we have not started with the group of 30 from a sending Church just the encouragement of a Christian leader in the North West Gospel Partnership. We are twenty months in from a standing start. It has been exhilarating and demoralising, energising and exhausting, hard work but also a joy — we have seen the Lord working in individuals lives and in our own lives. Sunday by Sunday there are about 15 or so of us. We have only had one Sunday when no one turned up and that was because nearly everyone had gone as a group to Word Alive (except one elder and his family who ‘did church’ alone that week). We have ideas and try them out, many have fallen flat! We have run events when no one came, events when one or two came and an event when 40 came (but no one came to the follow-up). We are running out of friends to invite and want to work out how to reach people with whom we have no contact. We have more ideas but limited resources especially in terms of people and time. It all feels very fragile and we feel inadequate for the task. Looked at from a human point of view the whole thing feels impossible yet we know that with God this is not true. We know the gospel has the power to transform lives - it has certainly turned ours upside down! We know that building Churches is God’s work but we long for others to come and help us.
Our story is not unique. Our church situation is a little unusual but our desire for help is replicated all over the place. I have been in Churches of varying sizes from over 1000, to 600, 300, 100 (and now 15). All of those Churches made appeals for help among their congregations. All of those Churches fretted at times about having adequate leaders for their children’s work or group bible studies, all of those churches felt that they needed more help to support their existing structures but they had the resources internally once they learnt to train up leaders and disciple their congregations. Most of those Churches were resource rich.
I am aware of a growing number of Churches who need help from other Churches because they really do lack the people to help them in their mission. There are young Church plants which look like they are thriving but lack older mature Christians to help nurture young Christians. There are churches which want to reach out to families but it is very hard to begin children’s work from a standing start - it really helps to have some families to begin with! Within our Gospel Partnership I hear ministers say: “if only we had one or two more families," “if only we had some young retired folk who want to come and serve”. They know that gospel work is dependent on Gods grace, they know that changing and transforming lives is God’s work but they also know that God uses people and they are praying for workers for the harvest field.
Our Christian newspapers and magazines have adverts for ministry jobs. We professionalise ministry but perhaps we need to be more strategic about helping other members of our Church families know where they could best serve, where they could move to, where the needs are. Why not have adverts for ‘tent makers’:
‘Church in Liverpool seeks retired couples to come and support student ministry’.
‘Church in North Wales seeks families to come and engage in children’s work’
‘Church in Leyland looking for musicians’
‘Church in Lancaster seeks anyone, any age with a heart for evangelism to come and get stuck in!’
Our nation needs evangelising. We need more ‘tentmakers’. We need to help each other through prayers always, money often but also by sending people. Fancy moving to Lancaster?