New Growth Ministry (NGM) is a new Baptist community based in Myland, North West Colchester. We established as an EBA church in 2017 in response to the vast expansion of housing in this area of the town. Our gatherings are small and informal and are focussed towards those who might not connect easily with traditional church structures. In all that we do we have a particular concern for the connection between spiritual and emotional health. We meet in homes, Costa coffee, a community room at Asda and the country park. Over the past three years we have held meditative prayer sessions, discussion groups, Forest Church, a prayer space gathering for families who home school, board games sessions and coffee and friendship mornings. I have also been able to support individuals and families on a one to one basis. NGM heads up MakeLunch Myland, hosted at the local Methodist Church with support from their members. This is a lunch club aimed at tackling holiday hunger in our neighbourhood and we have built a number of strong relationships with the families who attend. Throughout 2020 I have provided maternity cover for the Chaplain at a nearby Secondary School and hope to be able to continue to support the school longer term now that role has come to an end. I am also building relationships with local primary schools.
During lockdown, of course, our activities have changed considerably. Our prayer and discussion groups have moved onto Zoom, meaning some people from further afield, or who are more restricted from coming out to gatherings, have been able to join us. We have also been delivering food parcels to MakeLunch families, along with surplus food from Asda. From this we have had new referrals from schools and colleges, which has expanded our connections in the community. Due especially to regular donations of surplus food I have been able to have an increased connection with local families. In the early days of lockdown I was often the only adult some of our parents would see. On the doorstep I have been able to be a listening ear and someone to share some of the burdens and challenges with.
We see ourselves as an experimental community, exploring how church may look in the future. It is our hope, therefore, that, as well as impacting our local neighbourhood, our approach to being church together may provide insight to the wider Baptist family as we at NGM, along with other BUGB churches, explore what it means to be a ‘spirit led community’, who ‘embrace adventure’ with the hope that we can ‘inspire others’.
Being involved in this type of ministry is wonderful and a real privilege. It does, however, come with a huge challenge regarding finances. We have a small core community and most of those we work with in our neighbourhood are facing financial difficulties. Lockdown has added to the challenge as individuals’ life circumstances have changed and opportunities I might have had to receive fees from supporting the ministry of other churches and organisations have decreased. As we are devoted to our faith focus and are more relational than project based this also greatly limits our ability to apply for grants. We are, however,
supported by Baptist Home Mission, which is such a wonderful blessing, and we want to thank all churches who contribute to this fund which allows ministries like ours to continue to exist so we can share God’s love.
As part of our application to Home Mission we have been encouraged to reach out to other Baptist Churches in the region to see whether any would feel able to financially support what we are doing. I am very conscious that I am doing this at a time of immense stress for a number of churches and leadership teams and it is a time of financial uncertainty for many. If that is the situation for you, I pray that you will feel held by God and that you will experience his compassion and goodness within your church community and, of course, please do not concern yourself with my request, other than if you would be willing to remember us in your prayers, which is worth so much to us.
For those who might be in a more positive financial position, I would be truly grateful if you were willing to prayerfully consider whether you could support us at this time, either as a one off or with more longer term support. I, of course, fully understand that after praying and discussing with your leadership that it may still be a ‘no’. I know that I can be confident in God’s provision for us and simply being in your thoughts and prayers, whatever the outcome, means a great deal. If you did feel able to support us, I would of course be very happy to come and visit your church, either in person or through an online service, and share more about our ministry and bring a message about the things God has put on my heart for our churches.
I would also like to share with you something that I am beginning to offer to individuals, churches and organisation, something which I hope will bless the wider Baptist family, as well as enable my local ministry to become more sustainable longer term. It is a program of coaching, mentoring and group sessions based on my nearly 20 years of ministry experience, along with the learning and growth that has occurred in this time as a pioneer minister, my work in spiritual direction and the opportunities I have to serve as a supervisor and mentor for others in ministry. I attach a leaflet which includes a description of what I can offer, plus costs. It may be that this is something you could use as a church, or you might have individuals you know who may benefit from the support. Perhaps it is an opportunity to raise up and equip people whose voices could be transformative within your church and community. If you would like to discuss any of this further than please do email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.