Bell Shoals supports Scotland church plant
Sep 2, 2014
By NICOLE KALIL
Florida Baptist Witness
GLASGOW, Scotland (FBW)—While every church plant sets out to be a reproducing church, nowhere is the mission more critical than at Refuge Scotland.
“It’s very dark here,” says Refuge Scotland Pastor Matt Setliffe.
Glasgow, Scotland—with 2.5 million residents—is the third-largest city in the United Kingdom. Setliffe visited there for the first time in 2011 and fell in love.
But that area of the world had already been on the young pastor’s mind.
After discerning the call to plant a church in 2004, Setliffe and his wife, Rachel, began to pray about where God would send them. They prayed that they would be able to serve in a place where many lost people lived. They assumed this would be somewhere in the United States.
In 2005, Setliffe took his first trip to Western Europe. The area captured his imagination to the extent that Setliffe thought he would plant in Germany.
|Refuge Scotland Pastor Matt Setliffe, right, performed the churchs first baptism in June at Loch Ard. Two other new believers are waiting to be baptized. Courtesy photo|
While they waited for the answer to where, Setliffe continued his work as a youth pastor and itinerant youth evangelist. In 2009, Setliffe joined the staff at Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon as pastor of college and young singles.
Then in 2010, Setliffe met a new Christian from Glasgow.
“I wanted to find out if churches there were reaching the next generation,” Setliffe said.
The answer was no.
Setliffe says he learned that since 1981 church attendance in Glasgow has dropped 60 percent and many churches are dead and dying. There were no churches there to meet the needs of the next generation, Setliffe said.
In 2011, Setliffe spent eight days in Glasgow meeting people, asking questions and experiencing life.
He was in love.
Bell Shoals expressed its support of the Setliffes’ desire to plant and asked them where they wanted to go. Bell Shoals Pastor of Missions Ted Badger said he wasn’t surprised when Setliffe told him he wanted to go to Glasgow.
“Matt’s an edgy guy and he was not looking for an easy [mission] field,” Badger said.
Matt and Rachel wanted to be sure of the Lord’s call to Glasgow so they visited once more and the decision was set.
Their home church became their sending church as Bell Shoals agreed to financially support the Setliffes for the first four years of their stay in Glasgow. During this four-year period, support from Bell Shoals will incrementally decrease as the new plant begins to get on its feet. This money is supplemented by support that the Setliffes have been raising themselves.
But the support Bell Shoals provides the Setliffes is not solely financial. The church has put in place for Setliffe, and for all the missionaries it sends to the mission field, an “Efficacy Team.” This four-person team works with Setliffe to provide accountability, prayer support, financial advice and intentional support for Matt’s wife, Rachel.
One of the goals Setliffe set for their first year was to identify the societal idols that keep Glasgow in spiritual bondage in order to let the Gospel address those issues. Many of the issues that Glaswegians are dealing with are similar to our own here in the States—materialism, alcohol and drugs. Education has become an idol, with the University of Glasgow being one of the top universities in the UK. Many people struggle with depression as during half the year the days are really short. Add in generational welfare and high-functioning drug addicts and the situation looks bleak.
“This is a post-Christian culture that doesn’t value the same things my family and I do—like the Bible and the Gospel,” Setliffe said. “The church in Scotland is irrelevant to them. [The younger generation] feels like church is something for their grandparents.”
Because people won’t come to church just because you’re holding an event, Setliffe and his leadership team build relationships and gain trust by having people in their homes.
It seems their efforts are paying off.
After a little more than a year in Glasgow, Refuge Scotland has about 40 members who are meeting in a house and it is currently looking for another place to meet. It performed its first baptism in June and there are two more new believers waiting to be baptized.
In March, Refuge Scotland launched three community groups that meet during the week, and the discipleship that’s taking place is encouraging, Setliffe said.
He says Glasgow is starting to feel a bit more like home, to the extent that on a recent trip back to the United States, he realized he’s not quite at home in either place.
Badger feels confident that the Lord’s will is being done. Speaking of Matt, Badger says, “[I am] convinced that the right man is in the right place at the right time.”
Advice for churches wanting to plant internationally
► Train the church planter effectively.
► Expose the planter to the culture he’s trying to reach.
► Learn from your mistakes.
► Manage expectations.
Ted Badger, pastor of missions at Bell Shoals Baptist Church
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