On Thurday, I attended the Manchester FIEC Pastor’s Network Day with my friend, Andy Smith. Andy is in the process of affiliating his church to FIEC and I thought it would be interesting, given this was his first time at one of these events, to get his perspective on how he found things. This is what he wrote:
Our church is in the process of joining the FIEC so I attended the regional networking day for FIEC pastors in Manchester. At this event I was lumbered with the job of writing an article on what I found helpful about the day because, apparently, Stephen Kneale couldn’t be bothered! (editor’s note: entirely accurate).
Firstly, it was encouraging to see that there are many gospel-centred churches in Manchester all united in bringing the message of Jesus Christ to our city. I am currently in training for pastoral ministry, so meeting like-minded pastors who all wanted to see Jesus glorified and the gospel advanced gives me greater confidence as I step into a pastoral role in the near future. For me, this is one of the main strengths of FIEC.
Our day started with a message from Adrian Reynolds who unpacked Matthew 18. He pointed out that the language Jesus uses throughout the chapter shows how much Christ cherishes and loves His church. He pointed out that Jesus refers to the church as his ‘children’ (Matt 18:3-5) and his ‘little ones’ (Matt 18:6, 10). Since Jesus loves the church with such fatherly affection, we should love the church in the same way.
Adrian pointed out – from the parable of the wandering sheep – that sin is a present reality and we are prone to wander from the flock and indulge our fleshly desires. As pastors and overseers of the flock, we should be the ones to go after wandering sheep who are part of our flock (Matt 18:10-14) and bring them back rejoicing (v13). The whole passage sums up how church discipline is to be done (vv15-20): lovingly and compassionately reconciling ‘these little ones’ back to Christ.
What I found most helpful about the day was the opportunity to chat to people about how they take the gospel to unbelievers in their communities. It was evident from our discussions that there is no ‘silver bullet’ in terms of methods and strategies. No one person has all the answers because we all work in different contexts with people from different cultures, ethnic backgrounds and social classes.
Nevertheless, I believe that there is a silver bullet we all possess: the gospel message itself. We can agree or disagree on tactics and strategies for evangelism but we are all united in proclaiming one message that we all agree has the power to transform the peoples lives of those who live in our local communities. I found this particularly encouraging. Overall, I found the day helpful. In our busy schedules its encouraging to stop, meet and pray with others who are battling to proclaim the Gospel in our region.
With all that said I will leave you with 5 Challenges from the message on Matthew 18. It’s a good job my wife reminded me to take notes!
- Is the Church Precious to us?
- Are you going after the wandering sheep? Our aim should be to win them over
- How many times are you willing to forgive (verses 21-22)
- Are you mortifying sin in your own life? (verses 7-9)
- Are you willing to be rebuked and corrected
I am looking forward to our church joining the FIEC and being part of a network dedicated to Gospel proclamation in our nation.