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A call to mission 

Now is the perfect time to ask the question ‘Am I linked to the church where God wants me to serve?’ says Sandra Kimber of Hampton Wick Baptist Church

HamptonWick800Nearly 50 years ago God called me to serve in Nigeria. I did not see it as my becoming a missionary at that point but simply changing the sphere of my service. However, it did mean sacrifice – leaving family and friends, my home, the culture and language that I knew – but it was a rich time of growth for me, as well as service. The following thoughts are written from that perspective of mission.

In the UK there are a large number of small churches – small because they need to be, small because they are not moving (and perhaps ought to close), or small because someone hasn’t heard the call to ‘come over and help us’. It may be easier or more comfortable to be in a larger church but is it where God wants us to be? There are many churches, across the country, in strategic positions, with vision and plans, but unable to fulfil these because of lack of people resources. Equally there are many people within some churches, with significant gifting, unable to utilise that gifting to its full potential because of others in the church with the same gifting.

Do we know that where we are at present is where GOD wants us or am I going somewhere of MY choice? Has He called us to stay where we are? Are we even listening to what He wants? We are living in times of enormous change and we have been given this great opportunity to reassess all that we do and all that we should be doing in the future. Now is therefore the perfect time to ask the question ‘Am I worshipping in the right church? Am I linked to the church where God wants me to serve?’

This is not a call for an occasional preacher but a call to go – not to Africa – but just down the road where ‘the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few’! This is a call for a few to leave the comfort of their familiar surroundings and church friends, to go and put their all into a smaller mission. There are churches with great vision and opportunity but where ministries have had to close because there is no-one to run them anymore. The call may be for a set period – a year or two – or permanently. No need to move house, leave family, or learn a new language. Just the willingness to put your all into a new sphere of service.

The Church in general seems to have lost its sense of call. Today, if we were to ask people why they go to a particular church, the answer would very rarely be ‘because God wants me there’. It is more likely to be because the music is good, I like the preacher, my friends go there or there are so many other activities I can join in.

Unfortunately, I believe we are simply growing large consumer churches where it is comfortable to just go, have a good time and then leave to go and enjoy all our other activities. It is my concern that even clergy are so fixed on seeing how large they can grow their church. I have been asked too many times how big my church is as if that is the only criteria for a successful church. Of course, I am generalising and there are the exceptions.

I am at present leading a small Baptist church in south west London and am speaking from experience over a period of some 20 years. We have vision and a clear call of God’s purpose for us in our area but we struggle and at present have even faced closure of some of what we were already doing – very successfully – but we do not have sufficient hands to continue. I am at present working within my District to set up a pilot scheme to see how we may be able to share needs and challenge people to hear the call.

As I see it, this is truly the way the early church worked – led by the Holy Spirit, they sent out disciples such as Paul and Barnabas to establish and refresh churches across the then known world. Key leaders, undoubtedly missed by their home church!

May we too see a new breed of missionaries sent out across the UK to help, revive, and refresh churches who long to see the kingdom of God grow in their area. 

Sandra Kimber leads Hampton Wick Baptist Church in south west London. 

This reflection was shared during the Small Church Connexion zoom webinar in September, where 47 people across the country gathered to share experiences of recent months - click here for the general report

Baptist Times, 22/09/2020
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