British Pastor Joel is all too familiar with the state of the Church in the UK. Born and raised in the region, he currently leads a local Baptist church situated right on the border of London and Kent. Watching churches both wither and grow over the years, he has noticed what the Church most needs to thrive – and you’ll find that it’s really not that complicated!
“I’ve been [in this church] for seven years. The church was [initially] quite small and in a weak state, but over a three-year period we have effectively re-planted it,” Joel remarks, noting that after five years it was strong enough to withstand the global pandemic. In addition to the success of his current church’s re-plant, Joel is now boldly endeavouring to help re-plant a second church.
Hearing of successful church plants and growth within established churches should excite us! With only about 4% of the UK’s population living as Christians, we rejoice when there’s growth in the Kingdom of God. Joel shares the hard truth that Christendom has been on the decline in the UK. But there’s a way to change that: “If there are less Christians, the only way to create more Christians is to tell people about Jesus!”
Unfortunately, not all believers grasp the simplicity of God’s plan. “So many Christians are [instead] getting together and they’re praying for revival – which is a great starting point – but we’re praying that God would do what He asked us to do. Jesus died for this plan! The only thing He asked us to do is tell people.” Joel further explains, “It takes a whole village to raise a child, and isn’t that just what the Church is? You can’t lead someone to Christ on your own, you need your brothers and sisters with you.”
With the importance of community in mind, Joel is passionate about seeing people, not only come to Christ, but to continue to walk the good walk of faith. “I think Jesus counts sheep and I think that’s what pastors are meant to do; we’re meant to count and if someone is missing then we go find them.” With the pandemic affecting church attendance and the ability to fellowship, Joel has noticed some believers still preferring to watch church services from the comfort of their own homes. Joel explains: “You can’t do fellowship by yourself. Church was never intended to be a solo pursuit. It was never something you can live out or do on your own.”
As churches encourage people to attend services in person and enjoy fellowship face-to-face with others, it’s an opportune time for those churches to rise to their fullest potential. “[God says] love Me, love one another, and He asks us to do one thing – go and make disciples. How complicated is that? [I think] a simple plan done consistently, faithfully, and excellently would [not only] work, but would make an amazing testimony, to be able to say ‘God made a promise, and we just did our part. God did the rest.’ That’s what revival looks like.”
As we begin to walk in the simplicity of God’s plan, we can be content in knowing the rest is in His hands. “Faithfulness looks like putting one foot in front of the other and just making some good, old-fashioned plodding – one step, then another step. Then three to five years down the line, you’ve got something that’s exciting! Five to ten years down the line, you’ve got something even more exciting – it’s just about being consistent and faithful.”
As God does His part and as we pay attention, we’ll notice that He’s always doing incredible things! And if we’re faithful to do our part, then we’ll more likely see the revival we so desire to see.
“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age,’” (Matthew 28:18-20, NIV).