United Baptist Church of Concord strengthens their relationship with a Foursquare congregation
When Baptists and Pentecostals come together, God only knows what can happen!
In fact, in Concord, NH that seems to be the point.
Three years ago, a group from the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel was seeking to plant a new congregation in Concord. They didn’t want to build on the outskirts of Concord, where property is cheaper and more easily available. Instead, Restoration Foursquare Church (RFC) was focused on serving and loving downtown Concord.
Enter United Baptist Church (UBC) – an ABC congregation since the early part of the 20th Century. UBC is a modestly sized congregation with a very special asset – a downtown church building. Not long after accepting the call to serve UBC in early 2014, Pastor Denis realized that this should be leveraged for the kingdom of God. He began networking with a local pastors’ prayer group, talking with social services agencies, keeping his ears open for opportunities, and issuing invitations whenever he could.
Kevin Twombly, pastor of RFC, shared the church’s need for a place to worship at one of the meetings of Capital Pastors Prayer Group. He and Pastor Denis began talking, and pretty soon RFC had a place to worship. For the last three years RFC has held their worship at 4:00 in the afternoon on Sundays.
“RFC has been a great roommate,” says Pastor Denis. “It seems counter-intuitive. You would expect more wear and tear, but in fact they have actually made improvements to the building.”
But 3 years of meeting on Sunday afternoons was wearing a bit on the Foursquare congregation.
“We came in thinking that meeting in the afternoon would just be a temporary thing until we found our own space,” says Pastor Twombly. “but it turns out, temporary can be longer than we expected. Sunday afternoon creates a lot of conflict. Family get togethers, football season, summer heat. We lost some significant families just because of that issue.”
So Kevin once again asked Pastor Dave if UBC could help. This time by making space for UBC on Sunday mornings. It was not an easy sell at first. Pastor Dave put him off for almost a year.
“I didn’t think my congregation would go for it at all. RFC is three times the size of UBC, half the age, and about 10 times the energy. I thought people would fear getting overwhelmed.”
But when he did bring it up to his Deacon board last July, they said they would be willing to talk about it. At a meeting with Pastor Twombly in August things took a dramatic turn.
Pastor Dave recalls, “It wasn’t more than a half an hour into the conversation with the Deacons, when the conversation turned from ‘should we do this?’ to ‘how are we going to do this?’ It was amazing.”
They worked out the basic plan – scheduling, logistics, equipment, and especially messaging. The critical point was the need for UBC to move their worship time from 10:30 to 11:00 am to make space for the transition between the two congregations.
UBC leadership took pains to bring important stakeholders into the conversation, committing to talk personally to each individual and family in the worshipping congregation. There was public discussion a special business meeting to invite the whole church family to vote, not just the members – because the decision would affect the whole congregation.
At the special meeting, there were a few people who expressed disapproval. Many more spoke of UBC’s desire to be generous and hospitable. An even more significant them was their sense of partnership in the gospel with RFC. By supporting RFC as they baptize new believers and make disciples, UBC sees themselves as participating in evangelistic ministry through their building.
UBC decided overwhelmingly to move their service back a half hour. The new worship schedule starts on December 1.
Pastor Twombly summed it up, “It is an incredible blessing to partner together with UBC to see he Kingdom expand in this city and beyond. To think that a Pentecostal congregation could engage in a Kingdom-focused ministry partnership with a Baptist congregation is something that I believe blesses God‘s heart and makes Jesus smile.”
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