Small church ....Big love!

“It doesn’t matter how small your church is. If you have a big heart to serve the Lord through your community then just like us He will bless whatever you do, providing it is in line with His will,"
- writes Jim Haughey.

JIM, a church evangelist who attends Vale Baptist Church at Cornholme, Todmorden, has shared how  God has been at work in the community.
He writes: "I hope people are encouraged by this article, especially other small churches like ourselves who have been struggling without a minister."

Jim continues: "In February 2017 our church attended an away day which was facilitated by Regional Minister the Revd Mary Taylor and Mission Enabler the Revd Kez Robinson. It was encouraging that most of our small congregation attended to seek God for the future of our church as this has been a little uncertain since our minister the Revd Kath Lawson retired nearly two years ago and the Revd Patrick Ingle was acting as moderator.

Treading water...
Cuppas at Vale"We had the opportunity to look back over the years at how the Lord had used us in different ways and it became apparent for whatever reason we had hit a bit of a lull. It was almost as if we were treading water, surviving, but not really going anywhere. We were in danger of taking on the role of a social club if we didn’t do something about it.

"We decided to take time out to seek the Lord and to do a bit of a self-check-up. We looked at our strengths and weaknesses. We looked at our role in the community and realised that most people in our village didn’t know what we where about. We probably looked a bit like a Holy Huddle that met on a Sunday morning within closed doors. One neighbour commented that he’d noticed occasions on Sunday mornings when he would see a group of people coming out looking like they had had a good time.

If you want more sheep...
"As a church how could we get the people from our village inside, so that they could experience the joy we have amongst us, that can only be given by the Lord?
"A friend made a comment that I always quote, 'If you want more sheep then grow more grass.' This is something we have endeavoured to do over the last 12 months and the Lord has richly blessed us.

Times are changing for the better ...
"Since the away day we have seen changes in our leadership team. For the time being we have given up on the idea of looking for a new minister due to finances. We were blessed to have Kath as our minister for about 20 years - in that time the Lord used her to build us up as individuals in the body of Christ. She encouraged us to seek out and use the gifts that the Lord had given us for the use of building His kingdom.

"As a Church we are now trying to be more transparent, advertising events we do. We now have a big notice board to let people know what is going on and we have been making better use of social media.

Vale walkers"Elevenses, (open door on a Monday) morning which was established about 13 years ago has made contact with about 50 new people. We set up a men’s breakfast in May that meets every 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month. We have had contact with about 15 men but have a regular core group of about 8 men who just come and talk informally and eat bacon butties. On the first Saturday of the month we put on our walking boots and head to the hills to burn off some of the calories.

"We got involved with the National Prayer Weekend and leafleted more than 1,000 homes in the area letting them know we cared about them and gave them the option to contact us if they had prayer needs. Some took up this offer. It was particularly helpful in making a link with the local high school as the Head encouraged the pupils to get involved and forwarded on their prayer requests.

Crafts at Vale"We had our first community carol singing event where over 50 people attended. We started off at our church making musical shakers and lanterns and walked to the centre of the village and sang carols. We then walked across the road to the Anglican Church we sang more carols in the warmth and had refreshments.

"On Christmas Eve we had our first midnight service. It was a candlelight service. We had three young musicians leading our worship. I had hoped for about 10-15 people but had to photocopy more song sheets and put more seats out as we had nearly 30 people attend.

"We have just had our first pancake party and around 70 people joined in the fun and games followed by a pancake supper.

"All the events we have done have been given positive feedback. We are about to start Rainbows and Brownies at the end of the month and already it is looking like we may need to put in place a waiting list. We are also planning to set up a children’s club on an alternative night that will be for boys and girls.

Baptism blessings ...
Vale baptism"We have seen an increase in people attending our services on Sunday mornings and longstanding members of the congregation have decided to take the next step of coming into membership. We have had a very busy but exciting 12 months - but for me one of the highlights has to be being involved in the baptism of a young man who started attending church more regularly since being part of the men’s breakfast. We haven’t had a baptism for over 10 years and we have another one planned for the near future."