'We want to make the most of every opportunity to bring them the Good News'
Appledore is an old fishing village in north Devon - and there have been several exciting developments for the Baptist church there. Minister John Kidd explains more
At Appledore Baptist we experienced many blessings and challenges through the whole pandemic experience. Most of our routine ministry opportunities had to give way to new ones, and we saw God do good things, particularly through our online efforts; we reached people we never would have done, we engaged with the whole church in a new and fresh way, and through all the ups and downs we have emerged, by God’s grace, in a better place than we were before.
Beginning to adjust to ‘post-pandemic’ life and ministry has been really great for us! As we began to prepare for this, we had a clear sense from The Holy Spirit that this time was a new season, full of new opportunity, and just like Joshua and the children of Israel standing on the edge of the promised land, we felt God say to us to be strong and courageous, and to go in and take possession of these opportunities! We needed to step out, make room, and even though we can’t always see the whole picture, to trust Him and still move.
There have been three main areas that we’ve stepped into new things and are seeing fruit and blessing in this ‘new normal’.
Firstly, we had long desired to grow and develop small group ministry within the life of the church and had begun to work on this pre-pandemic. But, as soon as we had the opportunity, we felt that small groups should spearhead the rebuild of church life, particularly because this close social contact had been limited for so long.
We appointed new group leaders, made room for new groups to meet, and were so blessed to grow the number of groups from 2 to 8. We’ve seen people who never really engaged with church beyond a Sunday morning find a safe place to share and grow, and new people who joined us on the pandemic journey have found a home in these small groups.
One surprise to us was how a mid-week prayer and praise meeting developed. We prayed weekly together on Zoom through the whole pandemic on a Wednesday, and as soon as we could meet in person again with the freedom to sing together, this meeting quickly evolved into prayer and praise! It has become so popular that we regularly have a third of the church out for this, and it has become a dynamic Spirit led time together, and in a meaningful way it has put corporate prayer front a central in church life.
Secondly, as we reflected on the way that the pandemic forced us out of our buildings into the community, we wanted to keep going with this. So, through the summer we now have church outside once a month, right in the heart of our community, people passing by, stopping, listening, chatting, singing. It’s been amazing how we have sensed the presence of Jesus at these services and had opportunity to witness and pray with people on the street.
We have also just hosted a cream tea for the village Jubilee celebrations outside, where we served 160+ cream teas whilst giving away a souvenir book about the Queen and her faith. It’s just so good to be a visible, relevant, and an accessible blessing, and we want to keep exploring new ways to do this.
Finally, and this one is still in progress! We plan to begin a new afterschool/youth ministry into Appledore on a Thursday afternoon in September. Again, we have had a desire to develop ministry to the youth of our community for a while, and in this ‘post-pandemic’ new season we felt we should now go for it!
We don’t have all the people and plans in place yet, but a big thrust behind this is to somehow support families who are going to be feeling the bite of the cost-of-living crisis come the autumn. We want to provide a meal as part of the youth club, as well as fun and games, and a ‘God Spot’. We have a great relationship with the local school, who have already said they will support it, and we can really see this becoming a thriving hub in our village, meeting a very real need.
So in summary, it’s been so good to leave behind some old ways of doing things, and step out into the new opportunities and challenges, not always having all the details, but confident of God’s favour!
People need Jesus more than ever, and we want to make the most of every opportunity to bring them the Good News.
The Revd John Kidd is the minister of Appledore Baptist Church
This is part of a short collection of stories from churches in north Devon, which have shared how God is working through them post lockdown:
'There was an expectancy in the air' - Tim Sutton from Westward Ho! Baptist Church, North Devon on his church's missional responsibilities after several years of patience, prayer and preaching Jesus
'We are excited to see what is in store for our church' With a pension deficit, elderly fellowship and church split, Torrington Baptist Church was facing an uncertain future. However, the remaining congregation felt God hadn't finished with them - and there are now signs of hope
Encouragement at Halwill Baptist Church - The north Devon church has continued to make improvements to its building, as well as engage with the community through food and hospitality as its activities restart. Millicent Hill shares more
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