Grace growing at a pace
Despite worsening societal conditions and a spiritual malaise among the churches, God is pleased to grant encouragements.
One such encouragement is the growth and development of Grace Baptist Partnership. Firmly committed to the doctrines of grace, convinced Baptists in terms of ecclesiology, and concerned not only with the independence of local churches but with their interdependence as well, the Partnership seeks to glorify God by growing leaders, planting churches and reaching nations.
Helping churches plant churches
Though a number of the men the Partnership is helping to train will be involved in strengthening established churches, the primary objective is to equip men to serve in church planting situations.
Church planting (or replanting) work has been undertaken relatively quickly and in such diverse places as Chatteris in 2010, Chelmondiston (2010), Edlesborough (2009), Halstead (2008), Grays (2011), Southall (2010) and Richings Park (2010). In addition to ongoing mentoring for workers, the Partnership helps provide evangelism supplies and other resources needed for setting up new churches in these and a number of other locations. In a couple of instances, the Partnership has helped new church plants find financial support for their workers and in at least one instance to aid in their efforts to find support for purchasing a building for their ongoing ministry.
That being said, the Partnership does not believe it is their responsibility to plant churches, but rather to help churches plant churches in their areas and beyond.
Training across the country
The primary means of facilitating the growth of leaders is through the Basic Training for Church Planters scheme currently running in London, Manchester and Gloucester, with a new group set to begin study in the immediate future in Ipswich. Participants are led through courses in exegesis, exposition and evangelism, with a special emphasis on church planting.
The groups which meet monthly have received instruction from men such as Phil Heaps, Mick Lockwood, David Kelland, Barry King, Geoff King, Stuart Olyott, Stephen Rees, Nathan Xiques and others. Additionally, participants complete reading assignments in church history and Christian apologetics. Opportunities are also given for the participants to gain practical experience in evangelism and church planting projects. This past year a number of the men have been sent out by their churches to undertake church planting work and a few have been called to the pastorates of existing churches.
Stories of progress
Three or four times a year the various church plants, helped by the Partnership, meet together for a day of joint worship and fellowship. These are always days of great encouragement and blessing. The day generally ends with a session in which workers from as many as 12-15 different church planting situations share a brief testimony of their work and the people pray together for the continued progress of the gospel in each of these places. An offering for the work is received at these gatherings and the increasing generosity of the participants is quite encouraging.
England and Scotland
Reaching nations is the ultimate outcome of this work. The Partnership earnestly desires to see every part of England served by forward-thinking, gospel–centred churches. There is particular concern at the moment for Cumbria and the towns and villages there without a sound gospel witness. Additionally, the Partnership was delighted to see Grace Baptist Partnership Scotland launched earlier this year with its own leader and trustees. This new Partnership has just begun its first Basic Training for Church Planters course in Perth and looks forward to encouraging the work of church planting in Scotland in the years to come.
Possible new work is being explored in Wales and an invitation to be involved in the Republic of Ireland has been received as well. Later this year, in fellowship with Grace Baptist Mission, the Partnership will facilitate the training of a small group of church planters in Germany.
Such encouragements are indeed an occasion for praise and thanksgiving. They are, however, a reminder to pray as well. Pray particularly for spiritual protection for the leaders and for ongoing financial provision for the work. Pray, also, for wisdom in considering various possible ministry opportunities.
Readers who would like to be kept abreast of ongoing developments in order to pray more knowledgeably about the work may visit http://www.gracebaptistpartnership.org.uk or contact Barry King at firstname.lastname@example.org