Steve, can you remind us where you guys are based and the background to Redeemer Tavistock?
Tavistock is a market town in West Devon, right in the heart of Dartmoor, one of the most beautiful regions in England. Tavistock has a population of around 13,000 people and serves a larger population of around 30,000 in the surrounding area. It is a town steeped in history, its main claim to fame is being the birth place of Sir Francis Drake – the first Englishman to circumnavigate the world.
Jenny and I have had a real passion for church planting since our time on a team that planted a church in our home town, Yeovil. We loved playing our part in establishing the church and we knew it was something God wanted us to do again.
After eight years with Yeovil church we felt God growing desire in our hearts to plant again. During our prayerful investigation, we met up with Grant van Schalkwyk who leads the team at Redeemer church in Plymouth. He shared their vision to see 5 churches planted in the next 15 years in the south west of England. We felt stirred and excited to jump on board and join them. Redeemer Tavistock was the first of those five churches and it’s been a thrilling adventure with God so far.
Redeemer Tavistock is a young church, the fruit of a beautiful vision to see five churches planted across the South-West of England. How is it going?
Things are going well – the ebb and flow of ministry of the last few years a reminder of God’s faithfulness! We started with a small group of people, meeting in homes in Tavistock. The core group gradually grew in number and biblical foundations.
In Easter 2017 we launched our first Sunday morning meeting, baptizing three people at our launch service. We have been running a Sunday meeting ever since! We continue to meet midweek in life groups to strengthen relationships and build life on life community.
Recently the church took a big step, appointing myself and Benji Rogers as Elders. The run up to Christmas is looking busy as we are preparing for a venue change. We are moving into a local school and are excited about being based in the middle of a vibrant neighbourhood community. The church feels full of life and there is a real sense of being a family on an adventure with God.
You guys recently hosted a day out in a local park, including some baptisms – tell us a bit about that?
Yes, we ran an outreach event in July – where we held our Sunday service in a local park in the centre of Tavistock. That morning we baptised people in the river Tavy, bordering the park. Our band lead us in worship, we had a couple of games for the family and heard testimonies from each of those baptised. Simon Thomas from redeemer Plymouth came and preached the Gospel, while escaping from an actual set of chains (it was impressive!). It was a fantastic day with lots of visitors and residents stopping to watch the baptisms – It’s been a great way of raising the profile of the church.
The redeemer family of churches has a fantastic DNA of multiplication and Kingdom advance. How do you keep this missional flame burning in a country which is considered hard ground / post-church?
One of the ways we keep the missional flame burning within our churches is through relationships. The connections we have with Redeemer Plymouth are built on friendships and shared values. The elders from Plymouth and Tavistock regularly spend time together – praying, hanging out and encouraging one another. We prioritise a number of together moments where our congregations come together, giving our people a chance to see God’s bigger picture and to deepen relationships.
Keeping the Gospel message at the centre of our teaching is vital. The missional flame burns brightest in our own hearts when the Gospel message is fuelling it.
What can we pray for as a movement, for Redeemer Tavistock?
Please pray for our move to the new venue Whitchurch Primary School. Pray for the practicalities, that we will build good relationships with the school and have families from the school and surrounds visiting us.
Please also pray that God draws in folk from the community to our upcoming Carol service, to hear the Good News!
Please pray for our joint weekend away in early November, that God will grip our hearts for the future and deepen relationships.
Please pray that our church would grow more and more in love with Jesus and each other, and that we would know more of His power and presence in our lives.