Bath Across The Pond

THE IDEA

I had the crazy idea of seeing if there was a gospel-preaching Church in Bath, England that New City Church in Bath, Maine could partner with. So I googled some churches, read some doctrinal statements and fired off a few emails. That’s when I discovered Widcombe Baptist Church. Their vision and values were both Christ and community centered, so I fired off an email in hopes of a response from their pastor.

Widcombe family,

My name is Joel Littlefield, the pastor of New City Church in Bath, Maine – USA. I had an idea a few weeks ago about attempting to connect with a church in Bath, England that we can partner with in prayer and consider sort of a sister-church relationship. I’ve looked through your statements of faith and your mission there and really appreciate what I’ve seen thus far. I would like to connect with the pastor there and ask that you also check out our website to see whether this sort of partnership would be of interest to you. New City Church is a brand new Church plant with the North American Missions Board, and we are launching our first Sunday service on July 23rd. We could use all the prayer we can get in this season.

Simple as that.

The next day I got a reply from pastor Clover Todman that read like this.

Hi Joel

Lovely to hear from you, would be delighted to explore this more – perhaps, time differences / the imminent opening of your new church allowing (!), we could chat over Hangouts at some point?

Amazing! The plan is working! It wasn’t a crazy idea after all.

THE CONNECTION

Long story short… We met on Google Hangouts. We talked for about 30 to 40 minutes about our cities, our families, hobbies and the ministries God has called to. He described his city as a middle class community that generally sees itself as good. If everyone thinks they are good already then why would they want Jesus? My city has a long history of ship building and is home to Bath Iron Works which employs over 6000. If there’s anything Bath, Maine is known for, it’s a strong sense of self dependency. Now, that’s not a bad thing on every account, except when you try to tell someone they need Jesus to save them.

DIFFERENT STAGES and MUTUAL BENEFIT

Widcombe Baptist Church is about 168 years old and very established in that community. Essentially they are on the opposite end of the ministry spectrum as New City Church. We haven’t had our first Sunday service yet. As a congregation, we’re barely walking and they are sprinting. But the beautiful thing is that our two gospel works in our very different stages of life and growth can mutually benefit, even thousands of miles apart. Their maturity and long-standing faithfulness to their community can encourage us. And I hope that the newness of our church-plant, the excitement of newly born gospel vision would be an inspiration to their people as well. I am committed to praying and leading the New City family to pray for their work in England. We pray that God would mightily equip them and pour out His Spirit of revival in that land. We pray for Widcombe’s leaders, ministries and families.

A GLOBAL MISSION

I cannot tell you how much it means to me as a pastor and new church planter to have a church family on the other side of the ocean committed to faithfully praying for us. My hope is that this relationship would give our core team, and those who come to be part of our family, a sense of fellowship that extends far beyond our own borders. May it begin with Bath, England but go on to more cities around our globe, until the whole world hears the good news. As a result of this relationship in the early stage of the Church, may we better understand the reality of our global calling as a local church. To think that it all started with a crazy and somewhat random idea, and now the wheels are in motion. God is doing something. Who knows. Perhaps in a years time we will have a missions team preparing to serve the people of Bath, England alongside our brothers and sisters at Widcombe Baptist Church. I know that God can make that happen.

EVERY HAD A CRAZY IDEA FOR THE GOSPEL?

I hope this story will inspire you, even just a little, to follow through with some crazy idea you have in your head that could influence the expansion of the gospel. No, not every idea is a good ideas. Many of them, like many of mine, should not even be voiced.  But don’t think for a second that God won’t place those ideas in the minds of His servants in order that through small steps of trust and obedience He will bring about unimaginable things.

And check this out! Charles Spurgeon once preached in the pulpit of the Widcombe Baptist Church. How incredible for Clover, and the men who have faithfully preached before him, to share in such a rich gospel legacy. And seeing how I’m a huge fan of the life and ministry of the Prince of Preachers, this was just one more proof that the providential hand of God was all over this crazy idea.

 

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