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If you have been to anything Waleswide has facilitated over recent years then there’s a strong likelihood that verses from Acts will have been read and discussed!

We cannot fail to be enthralled by phrases about the early church such as ‘the word of God spread. The number of disciples … increased rapidly’ (6.7), ‘preaching the gospel in all the towns …’ (8.40), ‘it grew in numbers (9.31), ‘a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord’ (11.21), ‘the word of God continued to increase and spread’ (12.24), ‘the word of the Lord spread through the whole region’ (13.49).

I’m pretty certain that all evangelical believers across Wales yearn for a time when such phrases could be said about our nation; in that we have agreement.  However, and here’s the big BUT… there is such a widespread difference of opinion amongst evangelicals as to how we should operate, what principles we should learn, model and teach from Acts if we want to hear those verses and phrases come to pass in Wales.

A New Mission to Wales, David Ollerton’s recent book has neatly researched church growth in Wales over a 10 year period, and looked at differing models of churchmanship and how effective each model is in seeing increase - exampling real life conversations with leaders in each model.  Conversations with leaders are always fascinating and revealing!

Looking back on conversations I have had across the nation in the last couple of years I can remember listening to leaders who simply pray for a revival such as Wales saw in the past; others who contend that the church across Wales must first grow more healthy because only healthy parents produce healthy babies; some who believe houses of prayer or healing rooms are the answer, others who are passionate about ‘making disciples’ as the only way ahead; yet more who express a desire for ‘missional communities’; a number who hope to see transition and renewal in existing denominational chapels; a few who believe BIG churches are the way to go; some pin their hopes on Kingdom theology; whilst some voices, Waleswide included, beat the drum for church planting.  Let me say this clearly!  The Waleswide team pray that all of those approaches might bring glory to God!

It only takes a read-through of Acts, and a glance at church history, to suggest that it’s very, very, unlikely that the Lord will bring about the redemption of Wales using just one strategy or style!  Granted, there may well be fresh seasons of anointed and blessed moves of God, but it seems to me that Wales is in such need of God that whatever differing ways of evangelism and discipleship He is blessing should be welcomed and encouraged.

I’m tempted to mix my Biblical metaphors for a moment, and move away from Acts back in history to the book of Nehemiah - where everyone rebuilt the section of the city wall nearest to them, using the same raw material but with different skills and approaches.  Nevertheless, the wall was rebuilt as ‘the people worked with all their heart’ (Nehemiah 4.6).

What am I trying to say?  Well, as we all try to rebuild the spiritual foundations of Wales, and see a nation turn back to the Lord, there has to be room for a multiplicity of ministry and method; we worship one Lord but the Gospel message is important enough to be shared in different packages with different labels!

However, Waleswide’s contribution will always be to shout about the need for churches to be planted, rebirthed, transitioned, in the neediest towns and villages across Wales, and not just to shout about it either - but to encourage prayer, discuss vision and strategy, provide training, offer small grant support, connect and resource would-be church planters and churches who want to plant.  I do hope you will be joining us in the coming weeks as we gather leaders in various locations across Wales to do just that.

We will also giving notice of our new church planting training day - to be launched in the North and the South - where rather than simply prescribing a repeat of a style and method that has failed in the past we will be examining what a local expression of the body of Christ could look like so that Jesus can build His church in 21st century Wales.

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