A-level results are out and I hope you got the grades and university you wanted. If you are coming to one of the Manchester Universities (University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan or Royal Northern College of Music), I wonder if you have given any thought to what church you will attend when you get here?
Within Manchester itself, there are several good churches you might attend.
These are all Bible believing churches within easy reach of the main university area. You would do very well to attend any of these.
Oldham is probably not on your radar at the moment. We are a town 15 miles outside of Manchester city centre with our own distinct culture. We are accessible by tram (c. 30 minutes Exchange Square – Oldham Central) and bus (c. 45 minutes on 59, 81, 81A, 83, 180, 184). We are not a well known church and, at present, don’t have any students coming. Nonetheless, let me offer a few reasons why you should give serious thought to coming to Oldham Bethel Church.
Ultimately, Oldham has a greater need. There are far fewer gospel-centred churches in Oldham and, being one of them, we are a small church of around 25 members and 40 in the congregation. Simply put, there are more South Manchester churches than here and they are considerably bigger than we are.
At Oldham Bethel Church, we are always on the lookout for those who could support in ministry. If you have musical gifts, you may be able to serve in the ministry of sung worship. If you have a background in Evangelism, there are many opportunities to serve in English Classes, Interfaith Meetings, Open Airs and others. If you have a desire to work amongst some of the most vulnerable in society, there are opportunities for you here.
There is a real breadth of opportunity for service at Oldham Bethel Church. We are engaged in frontline Muslim evangelism as well as reaching out the white urban unreached living on local council estates. You will find opportunities to learn how to engage in evangelism in a multicultural setting as well as the possibility of leading services, bible studies and preaching such that you want to take them.
Whilst our building is sited in an monocultural Asian Muslim area of the town, our church is culturally diverse. We have members from the UK, Middle East, West Indies and Africa. We have many Iranian asylum seekers in our congregation and we function, by and large, bi-lingually (main language is English with translation into Persian).
Coming to Bethel Church you will learn the true nature of gospel community and join a truly diverse group of believers. The membership is not only drawn from different ethnic groups and nationalities but also includes people from across the socio-economic spectrum. You will encounter what ministry in a diverse culture really looks like. You will see how the gospel transcends issues of culture, class and ethnicity.
You will be able to experience the gospel in a context serving those from the most deprived backgrounds as well as how it speak to those from Muslim cultures. You will see what mission looks like to those struggling with addictions, financial problems and immigration status and how the gospel speaks to all walks of life. You will see how to communicate the gospel, lovingly but clearly and without compromise, with both Muslim immigrants and British-born Muslim people.
Oldham is not a gentrified area that begs to be seen as ‘working class’ due to a past reputation for ‘being rough’. It is the most deprived town in England full of real people, with real problems, who are crying out for the gospel. You could be a part of meeting that need. You could bring your skills and enthisiasm for the gospel to bear in this needy town.
You will be involved with people who are seeking to plant churches locally in urban settings. We are looking to plant on several local council estates with no existing gospel witness in their midst. You can be involved in these discussions and may even go on to be part of a core team pioneering work in these places.
On top of all the opportunities to serve within the church, you will become part of culturally diverse family who will love and care for you. The Bible is taught faithfully week-by-week on a Sunday and in midweek home groups. There is opportunity to serve with us in a variety of ministry settings. There are opportunities to simply spend time and hangout with other members of the church family.
We accept that we are much further and harder to get to on a Sunday morning than the Manchester churches. We know we cannot offer you a group of students your own age. We know that our services may not be the all-singing, all-dancing, slick and professional affairs you might get elsewhere.
But we can guarantee gospel-centred, Bible-based ministry. We can guarantee real opportunities to serve in frontline Evangelism and training in Bible study and preaching. We can guarantee a diverse cultural experience. We can guarantee authentic people who love Jesus who want to reach real people that live in our town. We can guarantee a group of Christian people who will delight in your joining, will regularly pray for you and seek your spiritual and physical wellbeing as far as they are possibly able. We can guarantee a church experience that few, if any, of your student friends are likely to receive.
We hope that you might honestly consider coming and joining with us. Maybe you will make your long-term home with us after University. Perhaps you’ll become part of a church plant reaching another needy part of Oldham. You might consider training with us as a Ministry Apprentice and even go on to study Theology with us through the North West Training College. Or maybe once you’ve graduated you’ll go somewhere new having been taught God’s Word and gained practical experience that will benefit you in your service elsewhere.
We might not be an obvious choice as your university church, but why not consider something different and come to Oldham Bethel Church?
You can find out more about Oldham Bethel Church by visiting our website. Alternatively, you could come up for a weekend and check out our service at 10:30am every Sunday.