New Growth from Old Roots
Twelve months ago it looked like Truro Evangelical Church might be forced to close down. Since then the membership has almost doubled and two people have been baptised. So what happened? Pastor Nick Fuller has been filling us in.
At the FIEC Leaders’ Conference in November we were introduced to church revitalisation. Smaller, faithful churches that are encouraged to recapture their gospel vision so that the work can begin to grow again in God’s goodness.
Well, for us in Truro, that’s exactly what’s happened in the last 12 months.
Our active membership has grown from 13 people to 22, we have baptised two young women and we have launched a number of evangelistic activities including a weekly town-centre outreach. God is surely beginning to revitalise a church that a year ago looked on the brink of total collapse – all praise to our gracious God.
A core leadership
I began to pastor the church earlier this year, but before then a lot had been done behind the scenes to start this revitalisation process, not least through moderator John Rosser. A number of folk had left the fellowship because of a disagreement over the ethos of the church. This was tough for the remaining members but it helped them to unite on calling me as their new pastor.
My wife, daughter and I joined the church in March, along with Geraint Richards and his family, who moved across from nearby Gorran Haven. Two men had been prepared for the diaconate in advance, and were appointed as the only deacons. Geraint was well-known to the church as a preacher and we appointed him as a second elder in addition to myself in April.
We had our first baptisms in June and September and both were wonderfully joyful occasions with many unbelievers present.
Now we have started to do weekly outreach into Truro City Centre with a tract table. We’ve produced our own church tracts with a brief gospel message to give out to passers-by as we seek to engage people in gospel conversations.
This has been supported by four of our number, and has been greatly encouraging with hundreds of tracts given out and dozens of conversations we’ve been able to have.
Running seeker courses
On top of that, the church has been running a monthly ‘pre-evangelistic’ lunch in a member’s home and we’ve just begun a series of meetings with an apologetic lecture followed by a Q&A and food.
We’ve also started two Christianity Explored courses: one for adults and one for youth within the church as a basis to begin a youth group. A few unbelievers have attended the initial sessions of both.
We haven’t seen any conversions yet (the two ladies we baptised had professed faith earlier) but a few unbelievers have started attending meetings and services, including one woman contacted through the tract table, and some are showing encouraging signs of interest.
At our last church meeting we welcomed two new members, agreed on changing the constitution to appoint women as deacons and agreed to adopt the NIV11 as our Bible translation of choice. We also agreed on making tentative first steps towards a possible future church plant in St Austell – one of the 50 towns on FIEC’s Go Into Prayer Cards.
This will begin with a weekly housegroup there, as several of our number live in or near to St Austell. Obviously we’re in no position to lose people to a plant yet, but we take this step in faith, and with a desire for an evangelising, Bible-preaching church in that large town.
So 13 members has become 22 and we normally have around 30-35, including children, on a Sunday morning, while we just about reach double figures at our midweek prayer meeting. Sundays are a joyful occasion, and the warmth of fellowship is a testimony to God’s amazing grace.
Please pray for us in this work of revitalisation. Our treasurer anticipates having to stand down in January and we need someone to fill this vital role. A couple of our core members may need to move away next year and despite our growth things still feel precarious. We do need other mature Christians to join us – those who are prepared to put in the hard graft of working for the gospel in what seems a more unstable situation.
But overall our story is wonderfully encouraging. I’ve been so aware that the blessing has been out of all proportion to my own prayers, and that there must be a whole host of people around the country praying for this work.