Home Mission Stories
As part of the Baptist Family, Home Mission supports churches across the many associations. You can view some of their stories here
In 2021 we are partnering with FuelCast to produce some Home Mission video resources to use in services and small group studies.
Below are some Home Mission stories from across South Wales
Multi-Congregational Church - Dinas Powys Baptist Church
What do you do when you make connections outside of an established church, to the point of leading people to faith, only to find the new believers don’t want to, or can’t come to a Sunday service?
Revd. Jon Davis, minister of Dinas Powys Baptist Church, explains how this question has been challenging and reshaping the structures of the church itself into what could now be described as a multi-congregational church.
It is perhaps important to firstly note that the church has never had its own building, which has arguably contributed to the flexibility and openness needed for this model of church to develop so organically.
Originating from a church plant in the 1990’s it still uses other public venues for its Sunday services based in the village of Dinas Powys, but now has a variety of other congregations meeting throughout the week in Dinas Powys and the surrounding towns and villages on the outskirts of Cardiff.
Looking back over the journey the church has been on, Jon explains that a couple of years ago the church started to make intentional moves to look outward into their communities and gradually started to see a few people come to faith. Naturally they looked to disciple these new Christians but soon realised that their normal way of discipling people through Sunday morning services or traditional house groups would not work.
Instead a more radical change was required, which led to those from within the church meeting and discipling the new believers in their own settings, with the attitude that Jon described as, ‘we’ve gone and done mission where these people are, so we’ll go and do discipleship where they are.’
From this a multiplication began to happen as these new Christians went on to create further groups - congregations - themselves. These congregations are often identified by friendships or a certain commonality, such as the youth groups which meet in church member’s homes or the community that gathers in a sheltered housing complex.
When these groups meet, they pray, read the Bible, essentially “do discipleship” and as Jon describes, ‘are just as much an expression of church as what happens in Dinas Powys on a Sunday morning.’ Only recently this has also led to the first person from one of these congregations asking to become a member of the church without ever attending a Sunday service. Jon describes the growth that has happened as something that almost seems to take place itself when the testimonies from new believers are so strong and they become the best evangelists as the want to share the transformation that they have experienced.
Jon is keen to emphasise that this journey has been slow, typically seeing someone come to faith every couple of months. However, most of the people who do come to faith are doing so through these mid-week congregations rather than through the Sunday services which a few years ago would have been viewed as the primary place for evangelism and conversion.
It is also interesting to see that all of this didn’t come with an intentional plan, at least in the beginning, instead there was the approach to simply try and be aware of where God was already moving and join in with Him there.
Although this journey hasn’t been without struggles and has brought up questions of what church should actually look like, there is a hopeful recognition that the church is still on a journey and that God is still working. Encouragingly, in doing this Jon also notes that they have sometimes even had to say no to what on paper looks like the best idea but instead have always endeavoured to see where the Spirit of God is already moving and try to join in where God is already present.
Mount Pleasant Baptist Church Fun Day
At Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, Barry we helped with the cost of their Fun Day which was the culmination of a week of mission to their community. 14 people excepted Jesus. There was line dancing, face painting, bouncy castles and nice weather. The night ended with a great worship service to thank God for all He did that week.
The Importance of Stories
‘Stories are so important, they have a way of getting through, underneath and connecting,’ so says Ian Purcell, Rural Missioner from Monmouth. It therefore seems only fitting to begin with a story from Ian himself in order to describe the missional adventure he has been on over the last 4 years in this rural part of the Monmouthshire/Herefordshire borders. Back in Easter 2018, Ian and a lady from one of the local chapels had gone door knocking with bags of chocolate Easter eggs. When they approached one house which kept the door firmly closed to them, they in turn left a card and one of the bags of eggs. 15 months later Ian went back to this house with a booklet, ‘Stories of Hope for Rural Communities’ funded by the South Wales Baptist Association.
This time the door was opened and the lady inside shared of how her late husband had been dying of cancer at home when they knocked on the door before. Furthermore, her husband had been having cravings for chocolate which that day she hadn’t been able to get for him when they dropped that bag of chocolate eggs at their door. The husband passed on soon after this happened, but his widow felt that what happened that day had given her assurance of God coming and meeting a real need, providing for her husband even at the very end.
Stories such as this capture just some of Ian’s role, which began as a joint venture from 12 Baptist chapels in 2016 with a 5 year brief to encourage, equip and mobilise the chapels as they currently existed in mission, as well as looking for new forms of church life in the Monmouthshire/Herefordshire area, about 30 miles north to south and 10 miles east to west.
With a clear mandate not to preach every Sunday within these chapels, Ian was then given relative freedom to explore how to put this brief into practice. Perhaps one of the most surprising practices in this venture has been rediscovering the art of door knocking, especially when Ian himself, reflects on how this was something he hadn’t participated in since the 1980’s! Nevertheless, whether it be due to the rural context or the message itself, Ian shares how this method of missional engagement has actually been working in his context to the extent he can’t remember one occasion where there has not been some kind of fruitful engagement. Furthermore, when there are tangible books or pamphlets to give, full of stories which often include locally known people, the door literally opens for conversations to develop. The ‘Stories of Hope…’ booklet has been particularly instrumental in this, sharing some local testimonies with a focus on giving the hope of Jesus into places of despair.
As Ian prepares to finish his time in this post he challenges us to reflect that for any healthy church to flourish we should all as believers be in a position where we are open to change. And whilst there hasn’t been the kind of growth within the chapels which was possibly expected, he also gives the encouragement that, "we live in times where there are so many ways we can be expressing good news." Even though Ian would never have imagined he would be door knocking in 2020 he has embraced this because this has been one way God is working, being faithful to wherever the Holy Spirt leads.