A Wider Perspective
Rotherham Evangelical Church has seen a wonderful season of revitalisation in the last decade. Ian Jones explains why being part of the FIEC family is such an important part of the church’s mission.
Back in 2008, our church was small. In fact, questions were being asked about its viability. But, over the last ten years, there has been an encouraging period of revitalisation and this has led to us asking very different questions.
As Rotherham Evangelical Church (REC) has grown, it has inevitably been a challenge to know how to best deploy our limited resources. Our membership of FIEC has been part of those discussions.
On some occasions I have heard friends ask: “what do we get for the fee we pay to be members of the FIEC?” In some ways this felt like a fair question because we want to be good stewards but something was bugging me about the question being phrased in that way.
Supporting Mission at Home
During 2015, we spent some time reviewing our budgets including our giving towards mission outside of Rotherham. I felt pleased that our church family were keen to be generous and outward looking. But although we supported some global mission organisations we did not really have a handle on how we might support UK-based mission.
We made a commitment to giving away an agreed percentage of our regular income to mission but there was a gap in our national perspective.
In the course of these discussions, it was suggested that we look again at our FIEC subscription. We realised that we were viewing this as a ‘charge to belong’ and were evaluating it in terms of what we could get out of it. It was being seen merely as a value-for-money proposition.
At this point we decided to reclassify our annual donation not simply as a cost but as a contribution towards and an investment in the work of the FIEC – ‘working together to reach Britain for Christ’.
These conversations led us to move our giving to FIEC from a ‘miscellaneous’ category to be part of our overall mission giving.
Part of a family
In actual fact we do feel that we have benefitted from being part of the FIEC family in many different ways – not least in taking our whole team to the Leaders Conference in the new venue at Torquay (which was encouraging but also a great time to hang out together away from home).
But it is the wider work of FIEC that is increasingly significant to us – inspiring and equipping churches all over the UK, growing women’s ministry support, church revitalisation work and the pastoral support of leaders and their wives amongst many other things. We feel that every £1 we have given since is really an investment in all these areas rather than simply paying for something we expect to receive.
Over the last three financial years, this simple internal ‘accounting’ change has served to help broaden our vision and encouraged our people to think in terms of us being part of and invested in a wider UK mission perspective.
Ironically, this has helped to increase our sense of belonging to something more national and stimulated us to pray more intelligently about gospel growth across Britain.
Maybe your church could benefit from doing the same?