Martin Woodier has been commissioned as the new Co-Pastor of a church in North Yorkshire. But a key aspect of his role will be to lead a completely different church in West Yorkshire. We asked him to share the details.
At the end of September, my Commissioning Service took place at South Craven Evangelical Church. As well as serving as Co-Pastor, half of my role is very specific: to lead a new church plant five miles away in the town of Keighley.
When you look at church planting, it is sometimes done in a “missionary” style, where a church planter announces that he will be starting a church and seeks to rally troops from near and far to enlist alongside him.
South Craven Evangelical Church (SCEC), on the semi-rural border of North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and Lancashire, is taking a different route. It is a church planting a church.
Assessing the gospel need
SCEC has been concerned for a number of years for areas which are quite distinct from the nest of villages in which it is found. They are all 15-30 minutes’ drive away on good, open roads. This has been heightened in the past six or seven years as quite a few people have been travelling in from three directions to gather with the church.
After a lot of careful thought and prayer the church became convinced that the way forward was to take on an extra full-time Co-Pastor who would, rather unusually, have a split role between:
- Helping to strengthen the preaching, pastoring, training and leadership of the growing church in South Craven, working alongside the Pastor Paul Gamston.
- Leading a church plant in Keighley, working with the people from the church who already live in that area.
It was clear, both from the point of view of what the current church needs are and from the point of view of simultaneously leading a church plant, that this was a role for an experienced Pastor who would add to the strength of the team.
That is where I come into it! 30 years of pastoring Bethel Church in nearby Otley counted as sufficient experience!
If current terminology had been around back in 1986 when I started out in Otley it would have been called re-planting or revitalisation. We had ten members (including my wife, Kim, and me) and a maximum of 15 gathering on a Sunday morning. The church grew in fits and starts but overall slowly. Last summer I handed over the pastoral role to Chris Haley who I had been training there for three years.
Plans for Keighley
In my new role I get to serve alongside Paul which is a great privilege. We have developed a good friendship over the past few years and we’re confident that we can work well together. We are clear between us and with the church that Paul is the lead Pastor of South Craven Evangelical Church, with me supporting him and sharing the ministry with him, taking the leading role when he is not available. I am the lead Pastor for the church plant.
The work in Keighley is truly at an embryonic stage. We have about 14 adults and 14 children who we can be fairly sure will start the church. Keighley is a very different place to the villages of South Craven. It is closer geographically to South Craven but closer socioeconomically and ethnically to central Bradford (10 miles away).
We have a lot of praying, thinking, planning and plotting to do as we see the best way to reach a town which is very diverse and largely segregated.
So please would you pray for us? Our aims are:
- To reach the lost in the large town of Keighley in a culturally appropriate way.
- To create a community of gospel people in and for Keighley.
- To love each other as we love Jesus, knowing this has an impact for the Gospel (John 13:34-35).
Adapted from an original post on the FIEC website.