Why We Love the FIEC
by James Martin
The Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches
It’s been an exciting time of transition at BRBC. We’ve seen the church grow numerically and spiritually. We’ve seen children’s ministries grow quicker than we could have anticipated. And we’ve had loads of unfamiliar faces walk through the front door of the church. We’re praising God for it all! But one of the most exciting transitions we’ve seen is our affliliation to the FIEC.
Now, I know that sounds familiar to those who call BRBC their home church, but we’ve done little in the way of explaining what the FIEC is and how our affiliation impacts the way our church operates (I’ll take the blame for that!). So, my aim here is to explain why such an affiliation is both important and exciting for our church now and into the future.
The FIEC & BRBC
BRBC is a church with a grace baptist theological/doctrinal stance. BRBC is an independent, congregationally governed church. This means we need to be careful to not risk being without a broader body to anchor ourselves to. Allowing ourselves to not have an affiliation to moor the church to could prove dangerous. That’s why organisations like the FIEC exist – to provide that anchor point, as well as give support and direction.
The FIEC currently joins together more than 550 churches across the UK and exists “to encourage & equip our family of independent churches to thrive, impacting our nation with the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ.” They go about this mission by working for the benefit of their churches in five specific areas (and you can click on any of these links to find out more):
(Feel free to click any of those links to find out more. Each link will direct you to the website, and you can see for yourself all of the resources that are provided – it’s really exciting stuff!)
Why We Love the FIEC
I could list so very many reasons why the FIEC is good for BRBC. But for the sake of brevity, I’ll list just a few.
1. The FIEC Is Gospel-Driven & Committed To The Bible.
The Gospel (i.e. the story of God’s gracious salvation in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ) and the Bible are things we are passionate about at BRBC. Fortunately, there are many other independent churches in the UK that share our same passion and same desire to see other people come to know the truth as revealed in the Bible. The FIEC links many of these churches together and seeks to unify what we all love and do. It’s a great way join with other like-minded churches who have the same passion to see the Gospel make a difference in lives throughout the UK.
2. The FIEC Gives Support
This is huge for both the leaders of churches and the individual congregants of churches. From pastoral and legal support, to administrative and structural support, the range of help is extensive. Many churches can testify to the benefit of reaching out and listening the advice of other churches and organisations that have “been there and got the t-shirt.” This is a big reason for why we love what they do; the more we do and the more the world changes, then the more we’ll benefit from such support.
3. The FIEC is Ambitious
Most people are suspicious of being ambitious. “Doesn’t Jesus call us away from being ambitious and towards humility?” Answer: yes and no. Yes, Jesus does call us to be humble and not be ambitious for our own selves. And no, because we find plenty of examples in Scripture of godly individuals being ambitious for God’s kingdom (not their own personal kingdom), filled with determined passion to see advancement. After all, Nehemiah was ambitious to see the walls restored. For his own glory? No. For the hope that God would restore people? Absolutely. And what about the Apostle Paul? Wasn’t he outrageously ambitious to reach many people? Of course, he was.
The FIEC is ambitious to reach many and build the church. We, as a church, want to be a part of that and join such an enormous and ambitious vision to reach the people of the UK.
4. The FIEC Seeks To Be Relevant
At my induction at BRBC I asked two things of the church. Firstly, that they would let me be their pastor. After all, I was only 28 years old and I’m sure plenty of people would have natural reservations with allowing such a green grasshopper speak into their often complex and confusing lives. However the second thing I asked was, “be willing to learn the languages of the world around us with me.” What did I mean by that?
It’s plainly obvious to me that a church that is unwilling to speak the languages of the world around it – that is, not conducting church life that is at least comprehensible to someone who does’t know Jesus – would die out in the near future. A church that doesn’t have a desire to do things in a way that is generally accessible to visitors can expect growth to be more strenuous and slow that it can be. Of course, moving in this direction is never easy, especially when there are already existing and long-standing church practices. But it must be addressed all the same, no matter how uncomfortable and disconcerting it may feel. The pain of changing what we do is hard to deal with, but the pain of dying out is much harder.
Here’s the key. The cultural climate of our age is changing rapidly. Like many generations before us, churches are having to face and tackle new questions, issues, and problems. We know from history that standing still and doing nothing about the changes around us is not an option – individual churches either learn the languages of the world around them or fizzle out within a generation or two. The FIEC seeks to provide support for churches in the kind of cultural climate we find ourselves in. To be the kind of the church that is Gospel- driven, Bible-based, and fluent in the languages that the 21st century uses.
5. The FIEC Connects Us To A Broad Range of Churches
The FIEC’s doctrinal convictions and beliefs are completely in line with what we believe at BRBC. However, the FIEC is broader than any previous affiliation we’ve had as a church, which means we can be connected with other churches that share our core beliefs.
Now before you say, “I don’t like the sound of rubbing shoulders with _______,” please see that the FIEC is committed to the Bible and wants to see people meet Jesus and grow in Jesus. We are not compromising our theological stance by affiliating to the FIEC. So, rest easy and be encouraged. It’s a really good opportunity.
With the huge influx of young families with children and unfamiliar faces coming through the door, BRBC has been presented with a massive opportunity without having to go anywhere. We have a growing next generation to hand the church on to, and like the generation before us we need to stay faithful, grounded, ambitious, biblical, relevant, and passionate in order to pass the baton on. We believe our affiliation the FIEC is exactly what we need to be able to achieve such an aim.
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