As you probably know already, we are making moves to plant a new Independent church into the town of Rochdale. Rochdale itself is a town of c. 100,000 people and the borough neighbours Oldham to the north. Rochdale is a frequent flyer on all the same lists of deprivation as Oldham and its demographics – segregated town with large numbers of South Asian Muslims – is incredibly similar to our situation in Oldham Bethel Church.
We intend to send our planter – Stephen Watkinson – into Rochdale with a core team to establish a gospel ministry in the heart of the town itself. Whilst there are two other Evangelical churches we know of in the borough – one in the town of Milnrow and the other in the town of Middleton – but both are situated outside of the town of Rochdale itself in areas that are demographically quite different. Our intention is to plant a local church in the heart of Rochdale to reach the c. 100,000 people living there who currently have no access to a good, bible-teaching Evangelical church in their own town and, should they want one, must travel outside of the town to get to one.
In doing this, there are several things that we need. In no particular order, it is these:
In the first instance, we need money to make this happen. As a small church in a deprived area, Oldham Bethel Church simply doesn’t have the finances to fund this work by ourselves. We have committed some of our own money to establishing the church in the immediate term, and we are intending to make the new church an ongoing mission partner with whom we will continue a financial relationship into the future, but this will not cover the costs of the plant by a long way. We need other people, churches and funders to partner with us to establish a new church in this needy town.
The simplest way to do this is to contact Oldham Bethel Church – who are handling the finances for the plant until such time as it is constituted and has a functioning bank account – and find out how you can support. You could become an ongoing partner, committing to long-term support of this plant. You may decide to give a lump sum to try and get the work established, even if you are unable to give longer term. You may not be in a position to support the plant financially yourself, but you may know others who are seeking to support gospel work in needy areas. You could support the work by simply passing details on to others who may wish to partner with us.
But without finances, there will be no church. We need your help to get this plant up and running.
We also need people who will commit to moving to Rochdale and being part of the core team. There is already a small group of people – some already living in the town – who have committed to the vision of seeing a gospel-centred church planted in the heart of Rochdale. But for the church to be viable in the long term, so that they can establish effective gospel works so that local may come to know Christ, so that they can take advantage of the myriad gospel opportunities in the town, they need others to commit to joining too.
Rochdale is within striking distance of both Manchester and Leeds as well as providing reasonable access to the Greater Manchester city region. Perhaps you could consider relocating your job to reach both the white British and S. Asian unreached in this needy town. Behind all the headlines of deprivation, the fact is Rochdale has schools like anywhere else, it has access to the internet, it has shops – it isn’t exactly desolate! Whilst we shouldn’t downplay the legitimate sacrifices that will have to be made to come, we shouldn’t overplay them either.
There are c.100,000 people in the town heading for a lost eternity who desperately need to hear the saving news about Jesus Christ. Could you perhaps look to intentionally move to an area, not because it advances your career, so much as it clearly advances the gospel and Christ’s kingdom?
Above all else, we really need your prayers. Scripture tells us, ‘unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain.’ We can come up with all the plans that we like, but it is ultimately the Lord who establishes our steps. Our intention to plant a church in Rochdale is all well and good, but we need the Lord to build it. It is his church, not ours. It is his gospel, not ours. We are foolish if we do not look to him above all to see it happen.
To that end, you could partner with us in the ministry of prayer. We know that it is by the prayers of his people that the Lord loves to work. Perhaps you could make contact and ask for the prayer letter detailing the progress of the work? Perhaps you could get the Oldham Bethel Church prayer letter that will also update on where we are with plans? Most importantly, rather than just getting an email and ignoring it, you could commit to prayer through the things that you see. Maybe you will be able to answer some of the prayer requests yourself. But, if not, maybe through your prayers somebody else may be so moved to do so. We desperately need your prayers.
So, there are three things we need: money, people and prayer. What could you do to help?