My wife Sue and I took over leadership of Chorley Chapel officially in June 2002 following an Induction by representatives of the Heart of England Baptist Association (HEBA). We had served at the Chapel for three month prior having offered to allow the retiring pastor Eric Stirrup a three month sabbatical.
Sue had been a follower of Jesus since age six. For me it was a different story! I have been a atheist (even an evangelical atheist)since the age of 22 and at the age of 47 without me searching Him out, He came and searched me out. My testimony is attached here. Sue and I married in 1995 after loosing our previous spouses through cancer. Between us we have 6 children 4 girls and 2 boys. Life has had it’s humps and hollows along the way, but God has helped us to learn and grow through each of them. Between us we have a wealth of experience where God has taught us in life we will have troubles, but fear not….. Also that it’s not the troubles that define you, it’s what you make of them when they come. They can make you bitter or they can make you better, the difference is a free will choice each one of us have to make for ourselves along the way.
Sue grew up in Kidderminster, one of six sisters and a brother in an amazing and godly family of which I am proud to be associated. I grew up in a small village (then) called Maghull on the outskirts of Liverpool not too far from Aintree Race Course which even did motor racing in those days. On coming to faith and giving my life to Jesus on the 19th May 1991 at the same time as my daughter Holly, I started the life changing journey that is on going to this day. Sue and I both came to believe that the denominational model of Christianity was hard to support if we base our beliefs and understanding on God’s Word. We both realised that we should be open about what we are. We believe we are disciples, followers of Jesus Christ and therefore are not Baptists, Anglicans, Protestants, or Pentecostals, nothing but disciples of Jesus. We talked this through with folk at HEBA ready to step down if necessary! They understood, and agreed to support us and to let us continue to work from the Chapel at Chorley. How amazing is that! Praise God.
This change took place in our seventh year at Chorley, and as God unfolded our work ahead, and our faith deepened, right there in a traditional rural Baptist Chapel! Everything began to change, and is still changing. It’s surprising how deep the traditional religious and legalistic roots go!
Our principle activity now is to fellowship and build one another up in love, and seek to help, support, share with, and provide for those in need as we have opportunity. God led us back to the early days of the Church ‘He’ set up, and we discovered many things there. Most of the time Jesus did what he did one to one or at best with small groups. It was these small groups that started the world changing Faith based on all that Jesus taught. Yes he did teach and preach to large crowds, but the real life changing renewing work of making disciples was with his close circle of followers. After His death that tiny group in partnership with the Holy Spirit changed the world as we know it! They ate together (which we do a lot of), they talked and discussed the Scriptures together, drawing out the Truths they contain (which we do a lot of) often around the table with food of course, we focus on making our Faith and beliefs real, practical, Spirit inspired, and relevant, we break bread together. We minister to one another for healing and wholeness of the physical as well as the emotional and Spiritual. We consider ourselves a band of travellers on the journey of ‘Life’, who have come together for a time and a purpose which is in God’s hands. We are not trying to build a congregation although that is growing, we believe we are called to help bring about a place where Jesus can build His Kingdom, and bring people into that Kingdom under Christ. He is the King, we are the subjects, and one day we will reign with him! This is our training ground here and now. We are learning to live in that Kingdom context together as we journey. Would you like to join us?
We don’t see Church as a building, or a destination. Church is the people who meet together in love of Jesus Christ, and have chosen to love one another as he commanded. It is not the prime mission to get people to come to our church, sit in rows and be preached at! People come, we share, we worship, we explore God’s Word and we pray, we journey together, we all grow through the process. Not just in numbers but in love and fellowship. At the appointed time some may leave and go off to do the job that Jesus has been preparing them for, and we had the privilege of playing a small part in His grand plan.
We pray, we sing, we break bread, we share our help, skills, and gifts together and we are being changed by His Spirit in that very process. The early Church following Jesus’ death on a Cross grew in about 400 years to cover the whole known earth at that time. That church is still out there today and is still growing exponentially, even as the popular view of institutional church is, ‘it is in decline’! How wrong can you be?
In the Bible the choice is set out clearly. Choose Life!
The Life Jesus offers is a life of on going transformational change from one degree of glory to another. It was for LIFE in all it’s fullness. It was for FREEDOM that he set us free. Well that’s been my experience anyway and that’s what we share, teach and help others come into, Life in ALL ITS FULLNESS!
Our strap line says it all:-
“To receive and live in God’s Love, pursue wholeness and share both with the people of Chorley and beyond.”
To God be the Glory.
Be blessed in Jesus Name Alan and Sue.