A Fellowship Observed
Is a fellowship of Independent churches a contradiction? Dave Bish wondered that before he started to minister in an FIEC church and began to see what interdependence looks like.
What is God doing in your church? What an audacious question to ask. What could possibly come from asking that?
On one Sunday evening every year our church gets together with the other FIEC churches in our city to share news, to pray and to connect with one another. Nottingham’s a large city and our locality now includes four well established churches, and two church plants.
Our contexts, demographics and scale are different. A city church, and five more local community churches. Some connected to the local student body, most not. For all our differences we have the gospel in common, and a shared commitment to word ministry.
It was my first time at this annual Sunday evening event in May. I’m new to both Nottingham and to the FIEC having joined the ministry team at Beeston Free Church last summer.
In the past I’ve pondered whether a fellowship of Independent churches is a contradiction in terms. Having sat, stood and sung among several hundred believers in this Sunday evening gathering, I’m utterly persuaded that it isn’t.
Sharing Common Convictions
What I witnessed in the room was family. Churches busy reaching their own locality in appropriate ways, united not just by doing stuff together, but also by our convictions. This was emphasised by Nathan Pomeroy from Arnold Road Evangelical Church who preached for us from Psalm 119, showing afresh why and how in honouring God we honour the Scriptures.
An annual evening service isn’t our only point of collaboration. There’s regular conversation between churches, members overlap in larger workplaces, and because of present or past involvement in our city’s two universities. We also work together through our involvement with the Midlands Gospel Partnership training course.
On this occasion, our partnership looked most like a prayerful response to the sharing of news.
Representatives of our six churches shared prayer points. Everyone who attended received a booklet of prayer points so we could continue to pray for one another.
I was particularly encouraged to hear Jason Griffiths tell of a thriving Christianity Explored with some who have started attending Stapleford Baptist Church, and the aspirations of Arnold Road to reach into a local estate.
We gave thanks for the first three years of the Rylands Community Church plant from Beeston Free Church.
Pete Brown asked us to pray for the beginnings of Redeemer Church Beeston who begin Sunday services shortly, planting from Cornerstone. Meanwhile John Russell shared from the sending side of that, about the changes this means for Cornerstone.
George Hawkins shared how at Beeston Free there are encouragements of believers growing, along with the challenges of how a growing “town and gown” church can seek to reach more new people with the gospel.
I’m encouraged that we can stand together. I’m encouraged that there is good gospel ministry going on – and acutely aware that our six churches only represent a fraction of that in our city. I’m refreshed to have glimpsed a bit more of the courageous faithful ministry that is happening in Nottingham.
It’s good to be Independent churches, and it’s great to have fellowship in the gospel.
One of our church reflected “one can only rejoice and be in awe” of what the Lord is doing. Not because things are spectacular, but for the brilliant ordinariness of people sharing extraordinary good news with those around them.
Could your church get together with other FIEC churches in your community? What prayers might be prayed, new initiatives be inspired, and praise be given to God, by the sharing of your good news?