Dear Partner in the Gospel
Today is day nine 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.
10 February 2016
Graham Field, Church Planter
“Can I have a word with you? I’m concerned about something I’ve heard. I understand you’ve encouraged Mr. Field to take up the leadership of the work at Halstead,” she said with a look of concern. “That’s right,” I responded. “I think he’s a good man.” “That’s not my concern,” she continued. “Don’t you think he’s too old to be taking on a responsibility like that?” “Well, I know he’s not a young man but I would think he’s got a few good years left in him,” I replied. “Years?” she exclaimed. “He’s in his nineties already!” It’s then that it dawned on me she thought John Field was taking up the work at Halstead not his son, Graham. I explained hoping she would feel better. I think she did – a little.
We have a lot of preconceived notions when it comes to church planters. We think we know how old they should be. We have an idea of what sort of family they should have. We have views about their level of education and/or experience. We have our opinions about all sorts of things. We are often wrong.
About three years ago now Graham and Tracy Field moved to Halstead along with their youngest daughter to
lead the replanting effort in this North Essex market town. With a realistic view of their own limitations but with great confidence in the leading of the Lord, they made the move at a time that some are beginning to think of slowing down and are certainly not thinking of entering the ministry. What has happened since?
Attendance has grown. Mind you the Fields doubled the usual congregation when they moved to town. But since then almost ten others have begun coming on a more or less regular basis. Graham has been meeting with three men for a weekly Bible study. Quite encouraging considering the fact that many small congregations have no men at all. A lady who used to sleep – and snore! – through sermons has been shown how taking notes can help her stay awake. Preachers everywhere will recognise that as a great pastoral accomplishment!
But still the church plant is not yet in a position to constitute as an autonomous church. There is simply not a sufficient core of mature, committed believers. The Fields, though, were under no illusion that progress would come quickly. They realised that church planting – particularly in places where previous churches have closed – is often a long arduous process. Had they not been a bit older (and wiser) they might have given up by now and moved on to greener pastures. Age can sometimes be a great benefit.
Please pray for the Fields as they seek to develop meaningful relationships with their neighbours. Pray that the Lord would send other people to work alongside them. Ask the Lord to give Graham strength for the added responsibilities he has recently taken on as chairman of the Grace Baptist Mission Council. Consider whether or not the Lord would have you – regardless of age – to serve in some new capacity for His glory.
Warm regards in Christ
Grace Baptist Partnership