Dear Praying Friends of C and M Heritage
This ministry has been going through an intensely active stage, since the last news e-mail June. There have been celebrations of many anniversaries which have been continually reminding us of how diverse our ministry has been – united by a need to glorify our Father in heaven. Equally diverse are those who are on our current supporters list, whom we are also encouraging to send in their reminiscences on the areas in which they have been actively involved.
We may be enjoying reminiscing ourselves, but we are not living in the past. We recognise that many of the problems we have faced over the years are still with us and, with slight deviations, are bringing fresh challenges to this current generation. Perhaps some of these experiential reminders from the past can be of help today? We invite you to be more interactive as we are getting nearer to launching a wider website with this new vision. This will become a more permanent home for all the links and materials we are sending you each mailing and should be active soon.
If you want to navigate quickly to a particular section, you can click on the hyperlink here; otherwise, just scroll down the email.
Do let us know if these subjects stimulate you, and share with us any others in which you have been involved with us in the past which you feel would be helpful to others at this time.
Blessings to you all
Cliff and Monica, Roy, Angela, Jenny plus all those sharing in creating this changing face of C and M Ministries.
This Month’s Theme – 1980s Church Growth emphasis
In June, we gave you a number of links to Revivals – this is one aspect of church growth which is once again being voiced as a specific need today. This month, we will be looking at Church Growth records and materials and, in particular, the birth of the British Church Growth Association (BCGA) at a time of need.
The 1980s were a significant time for Christians in the UK. The Western church had been declining since the 1960s and although, at that time, the six traditionally accepted churches* were still a significant voice in the British Isles, apathy and nominalism had set in, which many saw as a death knell for Christianity. The decline at that time may not have been as obvious as it is today, but steps were taken to understand changes that needed to be made - not only to prevent further decline but also to promote growth. Fortunately, the Christian presence had been expanding world-wide (and still is), and the countries sending out missionaries to ‘their ends of the earth’ had been taking up the challenge of sending missionaries into our country too. Those of you who take, and have listened to, Issachar’s August State of the Nation Update Message will have heard some uplifting stories of what was happening in the Far East in the Summer of 2001 – and there are equally exciting stories today in other areas. These are available from Issachar Ministries, on an annual subscription either as a CD or a download, by contacting email@example.com.
Among those who recognised the start of decline and the need for action in 1975 was Archbishop Donald Coggan with his ‘Call to the Nation’, which led to two different gatherings to promote the 1980s Decade of Evangelism (we touched on this in February 2022).
A driving force behind the Evangelical Alliance National Congress in 1980 was a small group with a ‘Church Growth’ vision who provided support through the Church Growth Digest and came into being in 1984 on a much wider basis as the British Church Growth Association. We have all the records of the 25 years when we were actively involved and are preparing to make these available as an archival file to help others. Like the prophet Jeremiah, the BCGA recognised the need to break down the barriers to growth that had been erected in many churches as well as the need to plant new ideas and structures. Here is the front page of the very first 8-page issue which had a further pull-out section on courses and ministries already set up and willing to help. This was given out free at the 1980 Congress. The subsequent development of the Church Growth Digest over the next 25 years included keeping up-to-date with research and trends and producing a number of supplements such as the Church Planting Network NewsSheet, Celebrating the Small Church, Natural Church Development Supplement and the Global and European Matters Network. From 2004 it concentrated much more on Natural Church Development and changed its name to Healthy Church UK. The full version of that first Church Growth Digest and all the subsequent copies are currently being catalogued and scanned in and should be available as a full series on the website in the very near future.
But the topical question today could, or should, be ‘Is the Western Church WILLING to Grow?’ This was also the topic of the second issue of the Digest which was full of living examples and started many new series such as Growing Churches, The Moods of Church Growth, The Problems of Growth, Interviews, Letters of Interaction, and Book Reviews - which in itself led to a rapidly growing Church Growth Book Service. The Editorial on ‘Wanting to Grow?’ is attached here. Some of those who were involved in those early days have started to meet occasionally on Zoom, and in discussion on church growth in today’s me-centred society, have felt that many churches now only live for the present. Peter Brierley who now runs Brierley Consultancy, thought they may even ‘have a death wish’ and this article by Peter ‘The Gravedigger File’ was in the ‘This Made Me Think’ series in 1989. Do let us know if the fellowship you belong to, has a willingness to grow and how you feel we can encourage others to understand this need – so that we each play our part in helping to fulfil the Great Commission.
Other links from those BCGA years are now materialising – in fact I had two requests from the USA on the same day last month!
One was from an old colleague, with whom we had lost touch, who is now a Professor in Olivet University in California. He called with an invitation to us both to participate in an international global strategy gathering in Austria next month particularly focussing on the right strategy for enabling and using the many ‘influencers’ in nations around the world. We are not able to go, and there is limited availability but If you know of anyone who is a creative thinker and may be interested in participating, do let us know and we will pass the information on.
The other was from the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies on the US East Coast wanting to republish another of our earlier short publications with Handsel Press – edited for us in 1989 by Jock Stein – Lesslie Newbigin’s ‘Mission and the Crisis of Western Culture’. This new version should be available in the autumn.
Cliff and I have so appreciated Lesslie’s thinking over the years which is totally in line with the thinking we are pursuing together on a deeper understanding of law and grace – and the atonement. So do watch this space for yet another new book.
*The six were Roman Catholic, Church of England, Methodist, Baptist, Congregational and Presbyterian. The Pentecostals were still thought to be nearing heretical on the continent. Other Independent groups were either not thought to be churches or not large enough to count.
We expect to cover issues like Denominational Unity; the 50th Anniversary of the URC and the continuing Congregationalists; the role of the BCGA Council; as well as spotlighting Cliff’s 70th anniversary in ministry and the benefits and stimulation of working together as a team and learning from each other.
More News Updates
Help and Prayer Needed – Volunteer Opportunities
These opportunities to meet are valuable, even if they are only on-line. Do let us know through firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or would like to follow up any particular issues. There will be another opportunity to meet with individual members online via Zoom on Monday the 12th September at 7.30 pm or Tuesday the 13th September at 2.00 pm. A personal link will be sent round on the Monday morning of that week. This does not rule out any further Zoom meetings - and if another time and date would suit you better, please let us know. We value our contact with you.
Once again, thank you for your support and prayers – you are all very much appreciated.
Just a reminder that Issachar Ministries UK is now financially separate from C&M Ministries Trust and has its own bank accounts and records. All existing donors have been given the details to transfer their accounts if they so wish and many have done so, bringing the on-going work a blessing from this much older ministry. Any income still coming into C&M Ministries Trust accounts will be used for Heritage work to enable 70 years of ministry to be effectively used in the future - and we will need to let you know when we need specific extra help. Existing Gift Aid forms taken out for this charity continue to be effective. If you would consider supporting this valuable work, the different ways you can donate to the ministry are set out below.
Standing Order including optional Gift Aid box – a copy of our comprehensive standing order form can be found here.
Internet Banking – our bank details can be found here.
Cheque – please make your cheque payable to C and M Ministries and post to our office address – C&M Ministries, Bedford Heights, Brickhill Road, Bedford, MK41 7PH.
Electronically – using the link below (or the one on the side of the current website) to pay into our CAF Donate account.