It’s hard to believe it is January again. January has always been a time of reflection for us in Barlanark, a time of looking back to evaluate and of looking forward to plan (whilst promising ourselves that this will be the year the diet will make it past the first two weeks!).
There have been a few key Januarys in our journey already:
January 2009 I started working as a youth worker in the scheme.
January 2014 Pete and I met with Mez and Andrew Mathieson. The penny dropped that God was calling us to plant a church here.
January 2017 we held our vision day a few months before the planned launch for last April.
Looking back, it is humbling to see the journey God has brought us on and that we are still here despite many dangers, toils and snares. The last year has been particularly difficult. By the end of last January, the wheels had well and truly fallen off. Our group went from around 14 to 7 in the space of a few weeks. Our best laid plans fell to waste; or so it seemed. Yet despite our failings and the many wounds inflicted in the battle, God’s plan hadn’t changed, His mission was still the same. All the while He was ‘making Jesus known in Barlanark and beyond’.
By the end of January last year, God had already provided two new couples who joined the team after the summer. And a few months later Carrie, whilst at home in Texas, reached her fundraising target and also joined us in August. Since then we have regrouped, refocused and redoubled our efforts to make Jesus known. Truly ‘t’was grace that brought us safe thus far.’
In a few short days Hope Community Church Barlanark will have its first public service as we ‘launch’ on January 7th 2018 at 11am in The Calvay Centre. We’ve waited for this day and been asked about it often and yet it’s just the start of the next stage in our journey. The mission has been going for years. We’ve been steadily building relationships, talking about Jesus and living our lives out for the Lord in our scheme. We run a busy toddlers’ group, community café and are engaging with the children and young people in numerous ways. There haven’t been many professions of faith and most of those who did have later walked away. Our doors aren’t being battered down by people wanting to hear the gospel. The ground is hard and we don’t expect that to change overnight just because we are starting services, but God is at work.
Every morning we pray for God to save. And we are thankful for the many open doors we have been given to connect with people in different ways. So we trust that God knows what He is doing. He WILL build his church. And this Sunday we are thrilled to be able to baptise our first intern Scott Dick and his mum Linda, both local people, as a public sign of this. What a fitting way to start out life as a church.
Many people have wondered why it has taken so long to get to this point. It has now been nearly three years that we have been meeting as a team on Monday nights. What have we been waiting for? The perfect moment? All our stars to align? Well, we have been waiting for momentum to build. We’ve spent a lot of the energy that would have gone on Sunday services on getting the right foundation and structure in place and building our presence in the community so we don’t seem like a group of outsiders parachuting in to start services.We’ve spent a lot of the energy that would have gone on Sunday services on getting the right foundation (@hopebarlanark) Click To Tweet
But if we have been waiting for utopia then it certainly hasn’t come. The last two months have, in many ways, been a pressure pot. There have been many challenges from both inside and outside. Even this week has brought numerous pressures in the build-up. Our team is tired, many are struggling with health and family issues, and we are all battling our own sin. We are weak. But if we think that what is needed is for us to be strong then we have missed the point. We’re not planting this church only because people ‘out there’ need to know Jesus (although they desperately do). We’re also planting this church because we ourselves desperately need to know Jesus more. We need to know that through the trials, God has called us together to be His body in this place. We need to be under the preaching of His Word which is delivered to our context and applied to our situations. We need to know the clear bonds of family launching as a constituted church will bring. Ultimately, we need to know that He is strong as He uses us on His mission.
And we start this next phase knowing that we are still safe in His hands. Unlike our January diets, God will succeed. Jesus will be known in Barlanark and beyond. And ‘Grace will lead us home.’
Would you join us and pray?
- Pray for our church of 16 adults and 8 under 5s that we would love Jesus and love each other because He has first loved us.
- Pray for Scott and Linda as they get baptised. Pray for their protection and their witness.
- Pray that as we give out flyers and invite our friends from the scheme that people will come, hear the gospel and be saved.
- Pray for the practicalities of the service. May nothing distract or remove Jesus from His rightful place at front and centre.
- Pray that in the days, weeks and months ahead we will settle into a rhythm of church and that would God speak to us through His Word and that he would be glorified as we worship and serve Him together week in week out until He comes.