February 14, 2013

Gospel Partnerships and the Beginning of 20schemes

As I think about my friendship with Mez McConnell and the developing partnership between our two churches that has led to the launch of 20schemes, I am reminded that gospel partnerships are God-honoring unions that bear much good fruit!

Mez and I come from two diametrically opposed backgrounds. Apart from geography and grace, there is little that would lead us to know each other. I grew up in Aberdeenshire, in an idyllic fishing village on Scotland’s rugged east coast. I always had a knowledge of Christ, indeed even a respect for the church. My Mum and brother are believers, and their faith was constantly on display for me to see.

My interest in Christ was never anything more than intellectual. I had a vision of where my life was going, I was a very ambitious and eager young man, chasing after the things of the world. I had some painful and distressing experiences as a young boy that left me with a destructive need to win the affection and approval of others. There was no conscious acceptance that Jesus was ever a relevant part of who I am, but rather he was simply a significant historical figure who left an impressive mark on society.

I vividly remember attending a church service at Stonehaven Baptist Church, a small church of about 25 people. As the Lord’s Supper elements passed me by I was struck, for the first time in my life, with the sobering reality that I was on the outside looking in. That Christ has paid a penalty for my sin, and that I could either pay the penalty for my vain attempt to exist separated from him, or I needed to repent and trust fully and completely in him. From that moment onward, the Spirit of God began to change my heart, my affections, and my ambitions. I developed a love for Christ and a love for his church.

I thank God for the grace and mercy that is radically on display in the life of men like Mez McConnell. I praise God too for that same grace and mercy that continues to be demonstrated toward me. We were dead, but now we are alive! God, in his infinite mercy, continues to use redeemed sinners to build his glorious church.

Gospel partnerships have always been a critical component of how God has built up his people. Just meditate briefly on the friendships we see in the scripture—David and Jonathan, Moses and Aaron, James and John, Mary and Elizabeth, Mary and Martha, Paul and Silas. Churches that love the gospel, believe in the power of the gospel, and affirm the sufficiency of God’s Word in the Scriptures must stand shoulder to shoulder in order to strive together to build Christ’s church.

20schemes was launched as a partnership between two churches with a bold vision: to build healthy, gospel-centered churches in Scotland’s poorest communities. Will you stand with us? We are seeking other churches, pastors, and church members to join us in this partnership. Come and stand with us as we strive together to reach the unreached right across Scotland. Perhaps it is a match made in Heaven!

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