Healthy Church Partnerships
It’s always encouraging to hear about churches that are worshipping together and looking to form healthy partnerships with one another. Phil Topham has been chatting to a pastor in Birmingham about a joint service aimed at encouraging strong gospel links.
More than 300 people from ten different FIEC churches in Birmingham gathered for a joint service in July to encourage one another in gospel partnership.
National Director John Stevens preached at the FIEC Celebration and Picnic, taking his sermon text from Romans. He encouraged the churches to follow Paul’s example of partnership in the gospel with his first point and then to have confidence in the gospel with his second point.
Chris Thomas is pastor of Oak Tree Church in Bournville and helped to organise the celebration. He says John’s message to the churches was really helpful as they think about the future:
“John left us with a challenge. He explained that it’s relatively easy for churches to partner on a joint service but we need to consider the long-term effort of this continued gospel partnership. So while we’ve started by worshipping together – which is great – we now need to think about how we can develop future gospel initiatives.”
The Celebration and Picnic has grown out of a joint communion service which the churches in south Birmingham have been partnering on for the last four years. This year the format was made simpler and more than 300 people came along – including 60 children who were looked after by Grace Church Dell Road.
As well as worshipping together and hearing John preach, the churches prayed together and shared news from across the region. Among those attending were 12 people from a church in Brandon, Mississippi in the USA who are short-term missionaries serving with Monyhull Church.
Planning Future Events
Chris was really pleased to see so many people come along and would encourage other churches to consider something similar. He added:
“Fellowship between churches is a gospel imperative and I think its absence is a hole in our Christian experience.
We’re blessed in south Birmingham because there is a desire to meet together and I think these strong relationships are key if you are going to make events like this happen. You also need to make sure that it is well planned – joint services need to be in the diary at least six to twelve months in advance.
But while careful planning is needed, the key thing is a commitment from the churches’ leaders to share in this fellowship.”
The churches in south Birmingham have decided to keep the first Sunday in July for their celebration in the coming years and Chris hopes it will foster further gospel partnership:
“Everyone I have spoken to was really encouraged by it – particularly by John’s sermon, but also by the way the service was led. Colin Tamplin from Monyhull encouraged everyone to speak to someone they had never met and those who took that challenge were really blessed by it.”