God had been calling us to plant a church for a while, he had been knocking on the doors of our hearts, and in particular calling us to the medium sized village of Caerwent - an ex Roman City. In 2014 the Bridge Church in Chepstow included church planting in its 5 year vision, with the desire to reach areas outside of our own. Our calling and the churches vision collided and we were officially selected to lead a church plant in Caerwent in June 2016.
As we explored our calling further, it became clear that God was giving us a vision for a slightly different form of church plant, known as a missional community. We would seek to plant mission, loving and serving people in our new community, sharing naturally the good news we have in Jesus. As his life, lived through our lives, begins to change lives we would then need to grow church around those people. In the meantime the team continues to meet prepare, plan, pray with worship and word.
The past year, has been a journey of discovery, as we’ve learned from and connected with others currently engaged in planting missional communities, all from a variety of church backgrounds. We have started to meet people in the area and seek to better understand the community, discovering who the gatekeepers are, and the people of peace. We are grateful for the help of Tim Robertson, as well as the Forward Network, who have helped us learn more about church planting.
Last September we held some training evenings to help the church to explore this further. We accessed the excellent Launch training from the Forward Network, as well as previously from Vintage Church in Portishead.
God has been good to us and has encouraged us in three main ways over this time:
1. Our team: 7 adults and 6 children have signed up to take part in this plant. God has brought together people from different backgrounds with different giftings, it’s the team that they make together that is most exciting. We started meeting together in February 2017, eating, praying, worshipping, studying the Living Free course and planning.
2. Our church: The Bridge has been a phenomenal support, they put money aside, and also took a vision offering resulting in them funding Laurence part time for two years. This is a mission of The Bridge Church as much as our team, some are praying, some are giving, others are babysitting to enable meetings to happen, some will become involved later, what a tremendous blessing they are.
3. God’s favor: Missional communities focus heavily on living amongst those you are seeking to reach. We have been praying and seeking for a suitable place to live in the community for around a year.
Due to the halving of the Severn Bridge fee’s to enter Wales, many people have been moving across the bridge this has caused rising prices, and a reduction in available rental property on the market, consequently we have struggled to move to Caerwent.
We were told three years ago that our income was not sufficient for a Mortgage, and we couldn’t afford the rental prices in the area either. But God ‘meets our needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus’ (Phil 4:19).
It started by a possible offer of money, not guaranteed, just suggested, and we weren’t clear what we could use it for but God had promised us a home that would be for the community. Within 2 hours we had a text message. Our friends brother was selling a flat. It wasn’t even on the market. The timing was suspicious, it smelt like God so we went to view a property, with little money, or hope of being able to buy it.
In this property on the kitchen wall was this decoration.
Which means nothing until you realise that recently another friend had designed a logo for the work we do encouraging, supporting and planting churches. Here it is.
“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it,
but God has been making it grow.”
Yes God had put our logo on the wall of the flat!!
He used a non Christian, Landscape gardener, to put up a sign in their kitchen, that was a very close match to our logo, in almost the same font, in the same colour, as the one that matched my friends design for our logo.
Within two weeks, we had been given a mortgage, someone else then approached us and gave us all of the remaining money we needed for a deposit. We had an offer accepted and finally, the mortgage monthly amount is half of the price of any place we could rent in the area, and the flat is bigger, God is good!