An open letter
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
It has been great over the last few years to see that as we proclaim Christ and Him crucified, God has given an increase to the church. It is often the case that we have to put extra seats out on a Sunday morning and we sense a real joy as new people are welcomed and made to feel at home in the church family.
Many of us were brought up on the following hymn:
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
It has certainly surprised us what the Lord has done and is doing!
As a team of deacons and elders we often encourage one another by listing ‘evidences of grace’. That is, we highlight the ways that God is blessing us. We have found this spiritual exercise a real benefit and aid in worship. Let me share 3 blessings with you:
- The blessing of new adults
It has been such a joy to see new adults joining our church family. We have seen some people saved and that has warmed our hearts. We have also seen mature Christians moving into the area and making their home with us too, and this has been a real benefit to the church.
- The blessing of Sunday School
Since we have moved our children into 2active and have allowed them to be a part of our worship, two things have happened. Firstly, the number of children attending the church has grown. The children actually enjoy worshipping with the adults. Secondly, the adults have benefited from the children’s attendamce. Many have commented that the church feels more like a family when the children are with us. The intergenerational experience of the church has been a joy.
- The blessing of babies
It would be accurate to say that we have experienced a baby boom. We have enjoyed numerous dedications and seen young families established in the church. It is amazing to think that we now have nearly ten babies under the age of two.
However, as is clearly evident, these blessings have brought with them challenges. Space.
Let us explain:
The challenge of blessing
- The space for new adults
We are running out of seats on a Sunday morning. In fact, the only spare seats are in the front rows. This means that it is difficult to invite friends and family to church, and if a guest arrives late they either have to stand at the back or walk all the way to the front.
Also, at the end of the service, it is difficult to get hot drinks served safely, have space to get around to speak to everyone you would like to, find a quiet corner to pray with someone, or just have space to be still and reflect.
- The space for Sunday School
The children have loved being in 2active, but unfortunately, at very short notice, the centre has closed down. This means we need to find a new space for the children. The first option was to take them back to the Cellar, but there are a number of problems with this. The main reason for not returning to the Cellar is that it would entail the children being there for the entire service (as it is too far to walk the children from church, especially as we are coming to the winter). This would mean that the children would no longer enjoy the blessing of being in church, and the Sunday school leaders would be out for the whole service. Moreover, the church would cease to enjoy the blessing of being all-inclusive and intergenerational.
- The space for babies
We have already had to create a crèche in a home during the service as there is no suitable facility in the church or the Cellar. Whilst this is a short term solution, many have commented on how much they are missing the babies on a Sunday morning.
In light of all of the challenges that blessing brings, having spent much personal time in prayer, and praying with the other elders and deacons, and then discussing a large variety of options, we have decided to move the Sunday morning service to Amman Valley Comprehensive School between October 17th and December 21st. At the end of this time we will review the situation. We do not make this decision lightly, but with great prayer, concern for the lost and love for the church.
We believe that moving to larger premises is an issue of obedience to the Lord. If we do not move to larger premises, then we can no longer welcome new people into the church, or allow the children and babies to be a part of our worship, effectively excluding their parents too. We don’t want to lose the family nature of the church or put up barriers which would prevent the lost attending.
As I reflect on this decision, I can see 5 blessings:
The blessing of challenge
- A blessing to God.
It is the Lord who has given us the increase, and it is the Lord who should receive all the glory. As people see that the Lord is growing His church, He will be praised and thanked.
- A blessing to us in evangelism.
Isn’t talking about the move a great opportunity to share your faith? Especially as we come to the mission week, it is very timely that we have such a natural and easy way to talk about what the Lord is doing.
- A blessing to us in fellowship.
Sometimes on a Sunday it is hard to get to the other side of church and talk to people. In the school we will have much more room to chat, drink our tea and meet new people. We will be able to include everyone and every age in the service and fellowship.
- A blessing to us in service.
As we will be renting a hall we will need a bigger team of volunteers to help set up and set down. Could this be an opportunity for you to serve the Lord? Indeed, we need help over the coming weeks as the children go into the Cellar for three weeks. As a church family we need to pull together and serve the Lord side by side.
- A blessing to us in understanding.
Maybe your wondering at this point, ‘What about the building project?’ A very good question. The building project is going well and we are very excited by the plans that are being finalised as we speak. We hope and pray that we can show you the plans that are going in for Planning permission at the end of the year. But, perhaps it is timely to be reminded that the church is the people, and not the building. Isn’t it good to realise afresh that we are not primarily about bricks and mortar, but about God’s Kingdom and its extension on earth?
You may have questions about the details of how this will work out. Please do not hesitate to contact any of us, as we would love to answer any questions that you have.
With these blessings come challenges. With these challenges come great opportunities. I’m sure you agree that this season is an exciting one. Think about it for a moment: More space to invite friends and family too; a church praying fervently for lost souls; an excellent mission on the horizon; and God’s people being willing to sacrifice for the sake of the lost.
Despite reservations we trust that you will feel with us that surely this is of the Lord.
In Christ Alone,
The elders and deacons of Ammanford Evangelical Church