Iain and Lyndsay Kennedy planted Glasgow Grace Church in late 2018, with their first public meetings launching in January 2019. Now one year in, Iain shares some perspectives with us after their first year of ministry to their fellow Glaswegians.
We celebrated our first birthday last Sunday and it’s been a great reminder to lift our heads from the week-to-week to give thanks for all that God has done and will do!
When we first made the long drive to Glasgow from England’s south-coast to plant a church in a post-industrial, post-Christian, post-truth city it felt as though we were about to try and climb Mount Everest in a pair of flip-flops!
We were coming from a brilliant church (Gateway Church Poole) with experienced leaders to tuck in behind. Suddenly we found ourselves at the front of the line with only three of us in tow, the third being our 18-month-old daughter. We’re very thankful to God that we are now a church family of around 90– including our new-born, Finlay.
Before we made the move some of our friends were praying over us when one of them saw a picture of us going up a mountain to receive the promises of God over Scotland. Months later, we made that climb on a clear and sunny day with a view from coast to coast. From that high point on the map we felt God give us a long-view for what He is going to do in Glasgow and in this nation.
That’s been such an important reminder to us as we are tempted to look through the lens of week-to-week ministry. The long-view helps us to see that we are joining God’s advancing, unstoppable, immeasurable Kingdom that will be made complete at Christ’s return and the renewal of all things.
The short-view is fickle and exhausting! One week we are ecstatic: six new visitors, someone gave their life to Jesus, the sense of God’s Presence in worship was extraordinary, that couple came back again, our Grace Communities (mid-week discipleship groups) were packed! The next week we are devastated: no new visitors, the sermon bombed, that ‘committed’ person was checking out another church and prayer night at Grace Communities proved unpopular… again!
When we have been looking too closely at the week-to-week we are left in a state of flux, but when we pull back and see the long-view of the mission of God we’ve been filled with hope and contentment.
We’ve found that the challenges of church planting can tempt us into some pretty extreme reactions! The long-view has taught us not to panic when the council introduces parking charges the first week we are in a new venue or when we have a particularly ‘low Sunday’ or when our house in England just won’t sell! Instead of reactive decisions, we can stick to the convictions God has given us and watch as He changes lives over time.
Instead of reactive decisions, we can stick to the convictions God has given us and watch as He changes lives over time.
A lot has happened this year: we hosted our first Alpha Course and people turned to Jesus and began following Him; God has strengthened our leadership team; we started meeting in Grace Communities (mid-week small groups) across the city and saw them flourish; our faith in God to equip the ill-equipped has grown as we received new spiritual gifts across the church and God provided the people we needed; the Word of God was preached more than 50 times; we sang our hearts out; we cried out to God for Glasgow and one another and saw Him answer our prayers; and each week we gathered together round the table to remember Jesus.
Looking back, we can see so much of God at work and that only encourages us to ask God for more this year. We have our first Church Weekend Away planned for May with Mike and Es Duff coming to strengthen us from Cornerstone Church in Newcastle. We are on week two of a packed out Alpha Course. We are getting ready to multiply our Grace Communities from four to six and we are believing that God is going to provide us a new Sunday venue.
As we continue into 2020 at Glasgow Grace please do pray for us to increasingly lift our heads to see the long-view as we engage with the ups and downs of life and mission.