In July, Grace Church was privileged to send a team of seven people to serve alongside our English brothers and sisters as they continue to work toward planting TCH Peak Trinity Church.
The team arrived just in time in the village of Stoney Middleton to join the annual Well Dressing celebration – a week-long event that brings everyone from the village out to enjoy time together, eat, play games, and celebrate village life. It’s an incredible opportunity to meet and connect with neighbors with gospel-driven intentionality, as well as support the Peak Trinity team’s many initiatives.
Back in July when the team was commissioned, we said, “These seven are going on behalf of us all.” Truly, went sent seven people, but Grace Church was collectively present through our gifts, prayers, encouragement, and, yes, through the members of the team who traveled. In short, the sending of this team was a tangible expression of our commitment to see churches planted and the gospel proclaimed in places where Christ is not named or known.
What follows is a collection of stories and reflections on what the members of the team saw and experienced during their trip. It’s our hope that Grace Church as a whole would glean wisdom, and encouragement, and perhaps even be challenged, by what they have to share.
Two things that has been so impactful to witness from supporting the Peak Trinity team is their dedication to simplicity and flexibility. I was chatting with one of the core team members and they encouraged me to just, "invite people into what you’re already doing.” This is so simple, yet God is using it to challenge me to encourage the body of Christ and be flexible to missional opportunities as I practically live out the gospel every day. Committing to flexibility is important to me because I want to be available to invest in relationships and community. I desire to do all these things in obedience and to the glory of Christ.
-Rachel Van Pelt
I learned how seriously the Peak Trinity team pursue the call to love our neighbors and bring the gospel into our communities. I realized this after only one day in Stoney Middleton! I felt convicted because I do not do a good job of meeting my neighbors or pursuing relationships in the greater community. Our trip to England developed within me a desire to get involved in my city in a way that allows me to relationally share the gospel in the same way the Peak Trinity team has been doing these past four years.
Seeing firsthand how our great God is building His Kingdom in the Peak District was not only a privilege, but a reminder that the work of evangelizing the lost will require everything from us (the church). I was convicted that proclaiming the name of Jesus and seeing the lost saved is not an easy task nor one that should be deemed a failure if the desired results are not seen in a short period of time. Our Peak brothers and sisters are committed to relational, long-term, low-key evangelism. Often times I am used to wanting a quick result to determine success, but that is not how the Lord is asking me to see the Kingdom. I am simply called to enter into the long-haul as the gospel accomplishes all that it was purposed for. How thankful I am for this reminder from our Peak Trinity Church family.
Experiencing the way the Peak Trinity team is a church outside of a building, loving their neighbors and investing in the events that are already happening where they live, was extremely impactful and is something I want to emulate in my life - truly living for Christ in every day, and truly being a church family in Christ with all the joys and difficulties that being family brings. It was wonderful to fellowship with them and learn/practice living gospel-centric lives. Hearing about and having gospel conversations with local people at the pub or at Well Dressing events was powerful. Specifically, the Peak Trinity team had been praying for over a year for Alex, who is the mother of Nat, one of their "Adventurers" (an after-school Bible program). Both Nat and Alex were curious about Christ and had been asking questions. While our team was there in Stoney Middleton, both Alex and Nat became Christians, prayed that Christ would come into their hearts and submitted themselves to Him! Seeing Alex and Nat fall in love with Christ and believe in Him was the most impactful thing to see! I especially loved Nat's realization that we are all family now, and the amazing questions he was asking, and Alex's warm love for us so immediately after we became family in Christ. It was just so encouraging and inspiring to see God moving so obviously in people's hearts!
One of the greatest things that impacted me during the trip was the supremacy of the Gospel in the day to day. A decision of where to live, how late you work, and even a simple walk, was done through the lens of what will make the Gospel go forth in the community and in our own lives. Their community is not made up of individual family units but of one family of God. Christ and His church are the foundation for the make-up of life and decisions made in the day to day. I've already been challenged to live differently here in Waco by allowing my needs to be known & met by my family in Christ the same way as I would my biological family. I've also been challenged to make slower decisions in order to consider the Gospel first instead of myself. I believe that God showed me what it looks like to live the Kingdom in the ordinary as it is written in Acts 2.
Spending a week with the Peak Trinity team taught me several lessons. First, how seriously Christians should take the committed to the local church. The call in Acts 2 where believers had all things in common and gave as any had need has a new, deeper meaning to me. Church is not just something we do, but an outgrowth of our identity. This convicted me about how I am caring for my fellow church members, and about how I view my property. If I am in Christ, then nothing that I have is truly my own, but rather it is the church's, to use as the church sees fit. Same goes for my time, and energy, and money. I learned about hospitality from the Scotherns, and how discipleship should be costing me.
One particular conversation during my time in the Peaks will stay with me for years to come. Three Peak Trinity members (Robin, Michael, and Heather) and the Grace team went to the pub after a long, but good, day. Heather sat down with two non-believing friends and began a conversation with them. A few Grace members joined them, and Heather eventually left. Because of one friend’s curiosity regarding our presence in the Peaks, we were able to have a gospel conversation. After several minutes, Robin and Michael joined us and continued the gospel conversation. Robin exchanged phone numbers with them, which will allow Robin to follow up with them in the coming weeks. In this situation, God used a diverse community to accomplish a goal that one person alone might not! Heather’s initial relationship was key in having the conversation. Our status as foreigners gave us the opportunity to have an honest conversation that might otherwise not have occurred. Robin’s role as a pastor will allow him to continue the relationship in a unique way. We all play a part in evangelism, not because God needs us, but because He chooses to use us - together!