By Mark & Irene, Westwood Baptist Church, East Kilbride
“It required a wholesale change in the DNA of the church…”
Prior to lockdown we, as a church, had been re-considering our Church Mission Statement and then working through together what changes would be required in order to live that out effectively.
As with many other churches we were thinking along the three pronged approach to church life of Deeper, Closer, Wider (or Up, In ,Out… or whatever other clever Mission Statement we come up with that says the same thing!).
We had agreed as a church that the Lord was pointing us to more development in the wider area of church life, i.e. he was calling us to be more missional.
The period of lockdown ended up acting as a period of reflection, conviction and affirmation. As an eldership, we became convicted that a move to being more missional required much more than one or two willing volunteers to set up new ministries; it required a wholesale change in the DNA of the church to be more missionally minded.
And that change had to start with the leadership. The problem with that? Both Pastors, Irene and Mark were aware that, if they were honest with themselves, a significant amount of their time was spent on the existing church ministries and existing church people and not on mission and connecting at a deeper level with those outside the church.
So before the easing of lockdown (to its current extent) this was brought to a church meeting and the church agreed to release Mark & Irene to give more time outside the church community.
One of the results of that meeting was for our Sunday evening services to be reduced from weekly to monthly and for our Sundays to be used more for building fellowship and links with others outside the church.
Irene then went on to train with Transforming Lives for Good along with another member of the church, Liz. This is a ministry that works alongside local schools in offering additional mentoring and support to pupils and their families who may benefit from it.
This is now up and running with Irene and Liz working alongside our local Primary School offering weekly mentoring to selected pupils.
Mark went on to train as a Money Coach with CAP Money in order to offer Money Management Courses on how to better budget and manage our money. At this time of economic fragility for many, we feel this is a key provision to benefit our community and the first course is already up and running.
In addition to these two ministries we have also started a Toddlers Group with a number of parents in our community now connecting with us.
Also, we have re-started a number of the previously running church ministries: the Youth Club, the Women’s Fellowship, the weekly Community Café.
Are things easy? No! We have the same challenges as so many other churches with people still having anxieties about returning. It is not easy and it feels very tiring at times. But there is a sense of excitement, that life is being breathed back into our church, new connections are being made, and the DNA of the Church is developing a more missional feel.
We hope this can be an encouragement to others looking to get things up and running again. Bless you.