FIEC on Tour
One of the things we’re passionate about at FIEC is Independent churches working together. We think we can be more effective in Fellowship than we can on our own. Phil Topham went to a recent gathering in Swansea as churches gathered to hear more of FIEC’s vision and mission.
Every now and again we like to take FIEC on tour.
We gather a number of church leadership teams together and invite them to hear a bit more about our mission: to see Independent churches working together on our vision: to reach Britain for Christ.
They’re called Vision Evenings and the latest one took place on Thursday 23 March in Swansea.
Hosted by The Dragon Hotel next door to Mount Pleasant Baptist (an FIEC church in the city) we were delighted to see more than forty people from church leadership teams. They joined us for a meal, prayer and the opportunity to hear from National Director John Stevens.
13 Independent churches were represented on the night, including nine that are not yet part of our Fellowship.
Independent Church Partnership
It wasn’t a hard sell. Instead we used the time to explain a bit more about our work and ministry. John explained why he believes like-minded churches partnering with one another is the best way to reach the millions of people in our nation who don’t yet know Christ.
And we saw a microcosm of what this partnership looks like in our discussions around the tables. These conversations are always the times when events like this come to life. So it was a joy to hear from the leaders of other Independent churches who are sharing the same gospel even though they minister in very different contexts.
Some of the challenges of ministry in Wales were fascinating; specifically around the geography of the country. Churches in the South Wales Valleys might be close to one another geographically but the road networks and cultural differences mean that they are miles apart in reality.
That’s why Fellowship among like-minded Independent churches is so important. You could see partnerships being forged and strengthened as everyone talked and prayed together.
Knowing the Times
As part of the evening, we showed our short film On Mission Together which highlights the desperate need of our nation. Best estimates suggest just 3% of people in Britain are born-again believers and even those figures are skewed upwards by London where the figure is nearer 10%.
John then handed over to two FIEC pastors who explained a bit more about their relationship with FIEC. Dave Gobbett from Highfields in Cardiff and Steve Levy from Mount Pleasant in Swansea explained why they value this partnership.
Steve spoke warmly of the FIEC Leaders’ Conference – in particular the conversations that take place around meal tables. He outlined the warmth of this fellowship and his excitement that everyone is so passionate about local church.
That was really encouraging to hear as we’re keen to foster partnerships between local Independent churches. We launched the Get to Know… resource in March, to encourage our churches to pray for one another as we seek to work together in reaching Britain for Christ. We showed one of our Get to Know… films in Swansea.
After we had enjoyed our meal together, there was a question and answer session. John was asked specifically about the benefits of joining FIEC but explained that in some ways that’s the wrong question to ask. We’d love to see churches thinking about what they can contribute to our national vision to reach the nation rather than seeing FIEC as simply a support network.
Obviously we do support Independent churches in numerous ways but John encouraged churches to think about what they could bring to the family by becoming part of something bigger.
The evening concluded with a time of prayer around our meal tables.
So what’s next? Well, of course, our hope is that churches who are not yet part of the FIEC family might choose to affiliate.
While we know that we’re not the only network of churches labouring to see Britain reached for Christ, we do think FIEC can give local Independent churches a national vision as we work together on this great gospel task of reaching the nation.
If your church is interested in joining FIEC you can find out more on our affiliation page.