Pilgrim's Hatch Baptist Church
On Sunday 11 October 2015 Pilgrim’s Hatch Baptist Church welcomed Neil Bywater as their new minister-in-training. The church were one of the first to make a Home Mission application following a review undertaken by the Eastern Baptist Association in the summer of 2014. Although they were awarded a ‘nil grant’ (due to their current ability to support this ministry from reserves) we share their story due to the positive impact the process itself had on the mission of the church.
As part of the ‘EBA Home Mission Review’ we invited ministers and secretaries to respond to a survey looking at the purposes, processes and rules for the grants that are given to churches. We also did a statistical analysis of the last ten years and the impact that grants had had on the life of the churches which had received them. (Click here for a video summary of our findings
As a result of the review we were able to give thanks to God for more than 200 baptisms in grant supported churches, and to rejoice that nearly 40% of congregations that had received grants were experiencing a rise in membership. We were also pleased to receive a strong mandate from congregations in the EBA to change some of our rules and processes in a number of strategic ways:
A 3 year funding cycle – with a more rigorous process in year one of that cycle, and a ‘lighter touch’ in years two and three.
More mission focussed – where the grant is given for the purpose of progress in mission, which will be evaluated with the help of an agreed mission action plan.
Pioneering and partnership – pioneering will be encouraged, as will creative partnerships between churches and those congregations wanting to church plant or try something new.
Lis Threadgold, an elder at Pilgrims’ Hatch (which meets every Sunday at Larchwood Primary School in Brentwood), tells us how God was at work, even in the process of applying for a grant.
“Pilgrim's Hatch Baptist Church started the application process for a Home Mission grant in spring 2015, during a pastoral vacancy. The initial step involved filling in a form under four headings; sowing, reaping, keeping and ploughing.
"This was completed by the leadership team and was an extremely helpful exercise in evaluating the balance we currently had between the 'keeping' activities (such as preaching, prayer, and home groups) and ‘sowing and reaping’ activities which specifically focussed on outreach.
"Once this had been submitted, Nick Lear, our Regional Minister, led a church meeting in which we were encouraged to once again analyse our current activities, but this time to also reflect on the age ranges we were reaching out to. The church members were encouraged to give their feedback to the leadership team following this meeting. This was a helpful process as everyone felt involved. The aim of both these initial activities was to enable us to write an action plan to submit to the EBA as part of our Home Mission application.
"From the information gathered and the advice received from Nick, the team devised the action plan: keeping most of the aspects of mission we are already involved in but with the added element of running ‘Messy Church’ every few weeks. At the following church meeting, our Home Mission visitors attended with a view to making a recommendation to the EBA about our grant application following a conversation with the church and assessing the general response to the proposed action plan. As this was a favourable response the action plan was submitted.
"The application process has been really helpful to us as a church and the enthusiasm for running ‘Messy Church’ has grown since the Mission Action Plan was written. On 17 April we ran our first session. It was attended by over 80 people including 21 new ‘unchurched’ contacts!
"The whole process of applying for a Home Mission grant has launched us into a new way of reaching people for Jesus which excites us. We continue to work in the harvest field, praying that the sowing and reaping in his Kingdom brings God glory by bringing many to salvation through Jesus.”
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