'Firestarters is all about meeting Jesus'
A movement of Baptist churches is seeing unusual growth – and wants to share lessons from 'coal-faced experiences' with other churches
That was the message at the Firestarters session on Saturday afternoon of the Baptist Assembly. Firestarters is a group of churches who are ‘growing rapidly, winning people for Jesus’.
‘Firestarters is all about meeting Jesus,’ said Alex Harris, minister of the Beacon Church in Stafford. ‘Shining into people’s hearts and revealing the glory of Jesus.
‘We want to have conversations with other churches about seeing the same where they are.
‘We just want to light fires, share the lessons we’ve learned.’
The 'unashamed prayer-focused goal is to see 100 Baptists Together churches experience twice the baptisms in the next 12 months than in the previous five years.’
Firestarters happens through 24-hour conversations (spread over two days). They are ‘lessons from our coal-faced experience’, explained Alex. The first day focuses on inspiration and action. Day two is focused on the experience of the attending church. Numbers are kept deliberately low.
The Firestarter event is followed by weekly phone calls for three months to talk through how it’s going. Firestarter teaching is also supported by webinars.
Several Firestarter conversations took place in 2018 and earlier this year.
Alex said 83 Baptist churches who have connected with Firestarters are now seeing this kind of growth.
Delegates heard stories from a couple of Firestarter churches. Darren Bovis-Colter, pastor of Limbrick Wood Baptist Church in Coventry, has seen numbers grown 12 to 130 in just a couple of years. ‘I’ve been on my knees, put names on a list, and prayed for people,’ he said. Limbrick Wood has seen ‘a spiritual transformation in culture of church.’
Pauline Wills is the pastor of Blaby Baptist Church. When she was called to the church there were 25 people, mostly over 80. ‘We just prayed,’ she said. As the days went on, ‘God brought people to grow his church.’. There’s been a lot hospitality, ‘old fashioned stuff, Christmas bazaars’. People have come in ones and twos, and numbers are now 90. ‘God has blown our preconceptions out of the window,’ said Pauline, ‘It’s been about welcome, worship and prayer. God has grown an old church.’
Alex (pictured) closed the session by sharing seven key lessons that resonate across most of churches that are growing. These lessons have emerged out of a conversational dynamic.
have leaders who pray a lot – ‘Prayer is where the battle is won’
believe good preaching is central – churches believe God’s work is done through his word by his spirit.
believe everyone is seen to have an active role to play. Recapture biblical image of army, alongside family: everyone is needed (the focus is on others, not ourselves)
believe the leaders they have is enough. God is too wise to make a mistake
have placed evangelists in key areas, at the heart of their decision making
have imagined what’s the worst that could happen – 'and realised it’s not that bad'. So often we are paralysed by what we think might go wrong.
have restructured themselves to cater for and catalyse growth. 'You have constantly got to reimagine the structure of the church to cater for growth. You need a new structure to cater for 40 compared with 20.'
‘God will reach people with the good news of Jesus,’ Alex said. ‘We just want to see people saved.’
Four more Firestarter conversations are taking place later this year. They will also be held in 2020. With Baptists Together Mission Forum support, costs are kept down - £25 per person.
Find out more on the website: firestartersuk.com