Newtown Evangelical Church
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20).
I’ve been struck by this verse in recent months. God has indeed done more in our fellowship than we could have imagined. Since lockdown ended, Newtown Evangelical Church has seen growth. We’ve had a number of baptisms and more are planned in the coming months. Our toddler, children and youth work has increased greatly, with many teenagers professing faith, while others are coming back to the Lord and, not to be taken for granted, our unity in the fellowship is something God has given and something we really treasure.
Yet, we always keep in mind, as the Ephesians verse goes on to say, this is all for his glory!
To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen (Eph. 3:20).
Bold for the gospel
When the pandemic started and restrictions came in we agreed, as leaders, that we would fully comply with the government guidelines. No more, no less. As restrictions eased we sought to start all the ministries we possibly could, while upholding the government guidance.
This meant we were able to provide meetings and activities in the town that the rest of the community wasn’t offering at that point. Whilst upholding regulations we wanted to be bold for the gospel. We are currently getting around 70 children and parents to our ‘First Steps’ toddler group. Around 70 primary aged children are attending our ‘Explorers’ club, and around 70-90 teenagers enter the building for our ‘Xchange’ youth club. So over 150 children and young people from the community hear the gospel every Friday night.
To be sure this comes with its fair share of practical and pastoral problems but God is blessing. We told the teenagers that if they were genuinely interested in questions about God and studying the Bible they could attend a youth Bible study on a Wednesday. Now a number of those teenagers have professed faith and some will soon be baptised.
It will come as no surprise that in our youth Bible studies we are dealing with those who have struggled with gender identity before professing faith. We are currently dealing with those facing severe bullying because of their recent conversion. We also have to help those dealing with same sex attraction. Please pray for these issues. I’m sure many of your churches are facing similar issues.
It’s not a surprise that when God blesses the enemy will cause difficulties in a number of other areas. Whether it’s because we are emerging from a pandemic or just a reflection of where society is at, there is a huge amount of brokenness out there, complex brokenness. It’s definitely not easy to minister into, but praise God, people are finding that in their brokenness, they see what they need in the gospel.
Praise God a couple of older folk have been baptised recently with more to follow. We have some who have come back to the Lord after spending years and for some, it was decades, in the wilderness.
A praying people
I know we so easily say, ‘It’s not about the numbers.’ I understand the statement as long as we’re not making it an excuse for apathy. However, the book of Acts never gives us this impression. I’ve been going through our sermon series in Acts and a lot of the time it is about the numbers. Numbers are referred to many times throughout the book. Why? Because we want as many people as possible to come under the sound of the gospel and be saved.
The model we see in Acts is prayer and profession. Many chapters begin with God’s people praying (Acts 2:42; 4:31) and following that, ‘God greatly added to their number’. They were a praying people. We cannot underestimate the connection between the prayers of God’s people and the work that God does.
I’m sure the reason Newtown Evangelical Church exists is because of the prayers of God’s people. The reason why the church building is here is because around 40 years ago, faithful people prayed and God provided. This will be the case with your church. The story of the church throughout history is that if we are faithful to do the ordinary, God will be faithful to do the extraordinary.
I’m sure many of your churches are praying churches. We have tried to create a culture of prayer in the church and to encourage folk to start meeting together for prayer, such as in prayer triplets. We also have around five prayer meetings a week to pray for the lost. We have an open time of prayer after every morning service for the fellowship to respond to the message. ‘The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the Lord’ (Prov. 21:31). I truly believe that at this moment God is answering our prayers.
To be perfectly honest, I would like us to pray more as a fellowship. In 1 Thessalonians Paul commends how they are living to please God but urges them to do it ‘more and more’ (1 Thess. 4:1). We need to do this with our prayers. In chapter 5 Paul tells them to ‘pray continually’ (1 Thess. 5:17). This is something we need to strive for. We must pray, because ‘unless the Lord builds the house we labour in vain’ (Ps. 127:1).
To God be the glory
I felt hugely uncomfortable writing about the work going on in Newtown. We don’t want people to know about Newtown Evangelical Church, we want people to know Christ. We praise God this work is happening and we pray this gospel seed is falling on good soil.
To show that it is of God and not because of our amazing planning or strategy, people we were never in contact with are some of those who are coming along and being saved. One teenage girl started attending because of her incredulity at the thought of evolution. She is now born again.
The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. Praise God we have a Saviour we can know and actually enjoy! It’s all to his glory. Every study, every service, every toddler group, every craft and chat group, every prayer meeting, every game played at children’s club and every conversation with another broken youth is to the glory of God.
This is why we exist, to show to a watching world the glory of God.
Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory (Ps. 115:1).