Today is day two of our 29 Days of Prayer and Giving for Grace Baptist Partnership. Each day we will focus our attention on a particular church planting, church replanting or church revitalisation project in which we have an interest. We trust you will remember these situations in prayer and that you will take advantage of the opportunity to support the spread of the gospel by means of a donation to Grace Baptist Partnership this month. It will also help us if you will share these requests with your friends by forwarding these emails to them.
2 February 2016
Beech Hill, Reading
We have got to stop dismissing openings for the gospel by saying the population is just not large enough to sustain a chapel. There are so many problems with that statement that it’s difficult to know where to begin. I will, though, make this humble attempt.
What do we mean by population? Are we talking about cattle? Sheep? People? If we are talking about people – whether a place is large or small – they need to hear the gospel. That is their only hope of salvation. They must be told.
And, please, can we just stop saying just? Imagine reading a headline, “Terrorists blow up bus in city centre, just 79 killed.” Or, “Rising flood waters imperil just hundreds.” Those who believe in the sanctity of every human life and the depravity of every human soul, must cease minimising our gospel obligation to all people every where by saying there are just how ever many people there. Yes, the number of people in a place may call for a different approach to ministry. But, it does not negate the need for a direct approach with the gospel.
Also, we must recalibrate our thinking on our purpose. Is our goal to have people in order to sustain our chapel? Or is our goal to bring the gospel to everyone in a given locality? It would be a real step forward to stop thinking about keeping the doors of village chapels open and to begin concerning ourselves with planting vibrant churches in areas large and small.
These issues came into sharp focus recently when the remaining handful of members at Beech Hill Baptist Church near Reading asked Grace Baptist Partnership for help. Beech Hill, you see, has a population of ‘just’ 294 people.
Let them go to Carey in Reading! That’s a good church. Or, Caversham! They have a burden for village evangelism. Problem is Carey is some miles away in the centre of a large town of 160,000 people. Even if Christians in Beech Hill could find faithful ministry there, Carey will be forgiven for not viewing Beech Hill as their most pressing evangelistic duty. Caversham does indeed have a heart for evangelising villages as evidenced by their work in Sonning Common. But the truth is they are a small church on the other side of Reading with an ongoing evangelistic interest in another village.
So, do we simply let Beech Hill go the way of the world? I don’t think so. We are actively speaking to many people in the Reading area (including friends at Carey and Caversham) and will be seeking to assist the church in Beech Hill going forward. A meeting towards this end is planned for early March.
Please pray for unity of purpose among the remaining members, clarity of thought on the part of those seeking to help them and humility of mind for all of us as we seek to be more Biblical in our thinking about such situations. Do you have a burden to help at Beech Hill? Please be in touch.