Barnes Baptist Church
Barnes Baptist Church has always been a small church, both building-wise and attendance-wise. Over the years we’ve tried a number of outreach strategies and although none of these was without fruit of one kind or another, they seldom, if ever, resulted in people coming to Christ or even to the church. But despite the frustrations and disappointments we always believed God had a plan for the church and that in his time, if we kept faith, things would change. From the human point of view, it was hard to see how this was going to happen; folk in the community were pleasant enough to talk to but the majority were simply not interested in the faith we were seeking to share with them. The few who did show an interest became ‘contacts’ but found numerous excuses to remain just that!
So, what did we do? We decided to do what we could do - and trust in God to do the rest. And what we could do was redecorate and refurbish the church in expectation of what we believed was to come. Our DIY skill resource was very limited, as was our budget, but we did things little by little – and we did what we could. Over time the church roof was repaired, the church redecorated, better chairs accessed from another church who were replacing theirs, the main carpet was replaced. We even managed to get a grant from a local charity to help pay for the rewiring of the building. It took time and a great deal of effort from a handful of our church-folk, but God blessed our efforts and continued to provide according to our needs.
Preparing the church for the blessing we believed was to come was vitally important to keeping the hope alive. For those unable to be involved with the practical work, there was the encouragement of seeing things change for the better as the building became more welcoming and functional; while those who were able to help were encouraged to feel they were ‘doing their bit’ to ready the church for its new lease of life.
Sure enough as work progressed, we began to get a few Sunday ‘visitors.’ We’d always had visitors and they’d usually say positive things about the service, the friendly welcome, etc. but few, if any, ever returned. Now things began to change and four or five folk were added to the Sunday attendance - consistently taking us into double figures! Then one Sunday as the service was about to begin three Filipino ladies came in – then another two, and then another two. By the following Sunday there were about twelve Filipinos joining us for worship. More came the following week. Not all stayed, but many did, including one who later married the Pastor!
As the weeks went by attendance continued to increase, as did the quality of fellowship time as we adopted the Filipino custom of having a meal after the morning service. The increase in attendance also helped improve the church finances, which in turn allowed us to refit the church kitchen and even have a hot water boiler installed!
Over the last few years, the church has been transformed and the Lord continues to bless us. Yes, there’s still much to be done. Yes, we’re still a small church. No, we still haven’t had the impact in the community that we’d like to have. But God is faithful and he understands. So, we continue to do what we can do and be content to let God do what only he can. His part and ours. That calls for faith, discernment and much prayer.
Graham Pulham 2020