Last weekend, as a family we got in the car and headed up north for I reckon only the fifth time in my life (yep, I‘m so southern).
The destination was Middlesbrough to visit and preach at New Life Church.
Since January this year, Banstead Community Church has been seeking to develop a partnership with New Life Church.
Because we want as a church to not be inward looking and only focused on our ministry and the local community we are in.
Because we are part of the same family of churches (FIEC).
Because there is a great gospel need in the North of England and especially amongst those serving on and seeking to reach those on council estates.
A few years ago we (Banstead Community Church) became aware of how great this need was, but as a church had no clue as to what we could do. But what started to happen at our weekly prayer meeting was that people spontaneously began to pray for the spread of the gospel and the growth and strengthening of the churches in this part of the UK.
Fast forward to January this year and in God’s providence I just happened to have the opportunity to have a brief conversation with Ian Williamson, someone I knew largely from Twitter, and asked whether he’d been interested in exploring partnering together. At the time I had no idea what this might look like.
Since then in God’s goodness it has been a joy to see how it has progressed and developed.
It started with us both encouraging our respective churches to take an interest in each other. Ian and his family did an initial visit to Banstead for our midweek prayer meeting where he shared about the work, and this was followed up with preaching in June at our Sunday services. This led to a commitment to pray for each other.
Since then as well as regularly praying for each other, there have been opportunities for members of each church to visit one another and friendships have slowly started to form. A couple from Banstead attended New Life in July, and Chell and Lauren from New Life came to Banstead in September (further visits of members to each of the churches are still to come this year)
A recent development has been a financial commitment from Banstead Community Church to give support to two of the gospel workers at New Life going forward, and we’ve begun to think about other ways the churches can serve one another.
This brings us up to the present day and having the privilege of preaching God’s Word last Sunday at New Life Church. It was great to sing and pray and read the Bible with them. It was a joy to see the way they love and welcome the local people from the community who attend.
As Ian gave me a tour after the service of the estates they have contacts in, in a way it felt a million miles from comfortably middle class Banstead. But in one way it was definitely like Banstead, in that there are thousands of people who are lost and perishing who desperately need to hear about Jesus.
I hope this little partnership (of interest, prayer, visiting, financial giving, and serving) between the two churches might enable that to happen more and more in both communities to the glory of Jesus’ Name.