Grace Extends in Dunstable
At almost 367 years old the Baptist church in Dunstable is familiar with the ebbs and flows of local church life. Here is an account of grace extending in this Bedfordshire market town.
Last Saturday morning I was teaching a group of 21 people in a monthly training day at Dunstable Baptist Church about evangelism. During the time set aside for questions and answers, someone asked about our recent growth. How do we explain it?
To begin with I stated that we can’t explain it. God is doing it. It’s that simple. Sensing though that several in the group were not completely satisfied with my answer I said a bit more. I told of employing an evangelist. I told of having some help with door to door for three months’ time. I told of a monthly open-air witness. I told of seeking to preach both expositionally and evangelistically on a weekly basis.
But, if I’m honest, I concluded, God always seems to bless what we are not doing. We employ an evangelist but a window cleaner brings more new people to church than anyone. We do door to door work but while none of them come someone we have never made contact with walks in off the street. We have an open-air witness but someone requests baptism who has benefitted from one to one Bible study. We preach but someone is saved through the simple witness of an ordinary believer.
So, perhaps the way forward is to stop doing anything! Let God do it all. Believe me. More than one church has tried this approach. I have yet to hear of it working out well! It seems that God blesses what we don’t do so he gets the honour and glory for any positive results and so we don’t develop some sort of growth formula we can bottle and sell in our bookshop.
That afternoon more than 130 people from 22 different churches met together for a two-hour service of prayer and praise. I was surprised – though I shouldn’t have been! – to learn that there were a number of unbelievers – including two atheists – in our midst. People who refuse to come to a church for an evangelistic meeting came to a meeting planned exclusively for Christians. Go figure! God is at work.
We’ll keep doing the various things the Lord has given us to do whether they are deemed successful or not as long as God keeps adding to his church – even in Dunstable – those who are being saved.
“For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:15