We are all feeling the effects of the decline taking place among the Independent churches in Wales, and it is of little comfort to say that there are others who are in a similar condition and facing the same difficulties. In this context, it makes no difference whether we look into the abyss on our own or in the company of others. The threat is the same.
One result of the decline is a general paralysis. Many are confused as to what they should do and feel that the best response is to hold fast to what we have. Then, we have to hope for the best! But even when people adopt this way of thinking, few feel confident that anything will change for the better. Many are saddened by the situation and see no real hope for the future.
If we really want to see things change, then we must show a willingness to change, a willingness to adapt and modify our ideas and to be more flexible in our expression of our faith. What we believe will remain the same, but the way in which we we express our faith must become more relevant as we go through this period of rapid change.
For that to happen, we may need help and, given the opportunity, the Union can provide some of the things necessary to enable congregations to move forward. With the decline in the number of ministers, it’s possible that a church may want to explore the possibility of raising new leaders from within its own congregation, or look at the way in which it conducts its Sunday worship, or explore the possibility of establishing (or re-establishing) Bible study groups or prayer groups to meet on weekdays. There is so much that is possible provided that we show a little enterprise, and move on in faith.
Help is available, and through working together it’s possible that we would be able to grow in confidence and be better able to make a difference in our communities. As a first step, you need do no more than contact the Union either by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephoning our office at Tŷ John Penri in Swansea on 01792 795888.
How many of the following could we do together?
- Develop a strategy for the future of your local church
- Adopt a programme to enable us to find, nurture and train new leaders within the congregation
- Provide those under 35 with opportunities to lead worship and other church activities
- Arrange a short informal training course to build up members’ confidence
- Learn new skills that will enable people to share their faith in meaningful ways
- Secure resources through which development can be ensured within the church and among church members
- Establish a small project that would benefit others while at the same time allowing church members to enjoy true fellowship through working together
- Take part in, and contribute to, the activities of the District Association
These are the main themes of the Union’s Development Programme. They are not difficult to do, and most cost next to nothing!.All that is needed is the desire to see things change, the courage to act, and the determination to see things through.