Church Plant Update
DENNISTOUN BAPTIST CHURCH (OCT 2015 TO JAN 2016)
We can’t believe that four months have passed since we began replanting Dennistoun Baptist Church (DBC). Looking back on all that has happened thus far, Pauline and I are deeply thankful for the support we have been given both from our church family at Calderwood Baptist Church (CBC) and the Baptist Union (BU). Indeed we are grateful for all your support, encouragement and prayers and for taking the time to read this – our first newsletter.
God has been at work in these last few months and we look forward with anticipation at all that He will do as we gather and scatter within the community of Dennistoun. Our plan is to share on a monthly (and much more concise!) basis of all that is going on within the life of DBC and what it is we can be praying and giving thanks for.
If you’re not aware of the background to the church replant of DBC - our involvement in Dennistoun really began last summer. I (Mark) started to do some pulpit supply in the church with the knowledge that we would be moving to Dennistoun and going full time at some point in the future (discussions had been going on for around a year, and an agreement had been made between CBC and DBC prior to this). However we didn’t expect things to move so quickly: by September I was working both part time at CBC and part time at DBC and then in October (with the support of CBC and the BU) I was in Dennistoun on a full time basis.
So what’s been happening at Dennistoun Baptist Church over the last four months? We’ve seen this initial period here in the East End as a time of listening to God, listening to the church and listening to our community. We’ve been cautious of rushing straight into new ministries and programs; being a fresh face to both the church and the area meant we didn’t know enough about our new context and so in these early days our focus has been on journeying the church through four key areas: Prayer, Word, Community and Mission.
Prayer: our passion and our vision is that DBC would be a house of prayer for all nations as we seek to fix our eyes upon Jesus and depend upon Him for all things.
Word: we want to be a people who are both fuelled and transformed by the Word of God both individually and corporately.
Community: our hope is that as you come to DBC you would have a real sense of a loving community and supportive family – all in light of the love that God has shown us.
Mission: we don’t want to stand still and be focussing inwardly, we want to look out to our community and up to God and into the disciple making mission that He has called us to in this area of the east end of Glasgow.
This all might sound great in theory but what has this looked like over the last few months? Well as we seek to cultivate a church engaged in Prayer, Word, Community and Mission here are 7 ways in which we have been trying to live this out:
1. ENJOYING THE BLESSING OF FELLOWSHIP TOGETHER
Pauline and I have really appreciated the opportunity over these last few months to get to know our new church family. DBC has a small membership (seven) and we get around fifteen on a Sunday (a slight growth from last year!). In these initial moments of church life there has been a real sense of love and unity and of living out the ‘one another’ commandments found in the New Testament. Much of this is down to the commitment and dedication of those who gather. We are also grateful to Andrew and Shirley McKendry, Kevin and Elaine Allison and David Dalgleish from CBC and their commitment to serving within the life of DBC. It has all contributed towards a real sense of togetherness and fellowship here.
2. GATHERING AROUND THE WORD OF GOD
Whenever we gather together we open up our Bibles, and we do so in order to grow in our understanding of Jesus and to be challenged about who it is He calls us to be. In September we started a new series in Mark’s Gospel, called ‘New Beginnings’ that we will continue throughout this year – it has been so helpful for us to listen to the words of Jesus and understand something of His heart for the community of Dennistoun. We are also in the middle of a six week prayer series, titled ‘PRAY’ – as we reflect about what the Bible says about prayer we are asking as a church about what it would look like for DBC to be a people (both collectively and individually) that are fuelled by prayer. We love God’s Word and we want our lives to be characterised by it in all things.
3. SEEKING TO BE A HOUSE OF PRAYER FOR ALL NATIONS.
Connected to this, when Pauline and I began we sensed that God was calling DBC to be a house of prayer. We later learned that this was talked about before we even arrived (God was one step ahead of us!). In October we began our Tuesday night prayer gathering; a time for us to meet with God and call upon His name. We have been encouraged by the commitment from our church family to pray and we have already seen God work and answer prayers as we gather. Our hope is that there would be a culture of prayer within church life; something that we know will take time nurture and develop. God works in amazing ways when His people pray and we are excited about all He is going to do in our midst!
4. BEING A PRESENCE WITHIN THE COMMUNITY
We have been very intentional about the need for us to be physically present within the community of Dennistoun. It is so easy for a church to gather week by week and for the surrounding community to have no idea of who they are!
And so something of great importance is making people aware that we are here and we do actually exist, whether that is through our church gatherings, our charity shop or being in the midst of our community and building relationships. To do this we realise the need for us to raise the profile of the church. Small steps have been taken towards being more of a presence; setting up phone and internet, website, social media, church sign (still in progress!) and improving the appearance of the church building, all of it in order to develop more of a presence within Dennistoun. Additionally Pauline and I are in the process of selling our house in East Kilbride and moving into the community here and I am regularly taking my office into local coffee shops and restaurants (it’s a tough job sometimes!!). In all of this we have been encouraged at the way in which God has developing relationships with the people of Dennistoun, all through this discipline of presence.
5. BEING A BLESSING WITHIN THE COMMUNITY
Alongside being a presence within the community we want to be a very tangible blessing to those in our midst, whoever they are and wherever they are at. And we sense that God has been leading us in a particular direction; to draw alongside those who are in real need within our community and to offer tangible help and support in Jesus’ Name.
With that as our vision we have been developing our work with Refugees and Asylum Seekers. Through the support of Andrew and Shirley the church has been operating an English class on a Saturday. Alongside this class we also began distributing clothes from the shop to Asylum Seekers through referrals from Migrant Help, (a government funded charity for refugees). The result of all of this has been the development of a clothes bank in the church. Migrant Help will continue to refer Asylum Seekers and Refugees who are in need of clothing to DBC and we will seek to support them in other areas also. We have been working pastorally with a number of refugees and asylum seekers including the support of a Christian brother Awet Tecle from Eritrea. Awet was made homeless in November and DBC was able to provide accommodation for him over the last few months as he appealed against his eviction from the Home Office.
Additionally as we look ahead in 2016 we are praying that God would direct us towards how it is that we can more effectively reach out to the indigenous community within Dennistoun and we would value your prayers as we move forward in this area.
6. UNDERGOING A MASSIVE CLEAROUT!
As many of you will know churches gather lots of stuff, and very often charity shops that are run by churches also gather lots of stuff! We were aware of the fact that before we started to work in different areas of ministry within Dennistoun, there needed to be a pretty substantial clearing out of things both in the church and in the shop. Over the last four months I reckon I’ve crammed full my Mitsubushi Estate (at least twenty times!) with ‘stuff’ (from the church and the shop) that let’s just say would be more suited to a ‘recycling centre’ than part of church life. We were thankful in October for the support of a team from Living Hope Baptist Church in Kentucky who have helped us in this process! The clear out has been extensive and is ongoing but it has also been deeply rewarding when we see how much more accessible and tidier the church and the shop are.
7. FIXING OUR EYES UPON JESUS
In all of this our hope and prayer is that we would be a people who would ‘fix our eyes upon Jesus as the author and perfecter of our faith’ – that we would never think that we can ‘do church’ separate from Christ, but instead we would be continually dependent on Him and on His grace, that we would truly reach our community, city and nation with the Good News of the Gospel and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and we look forward to keeping you up to date each month with all that is going on within the life of DBC!
Mark and Pauline
4th February 2016