The Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches (FIEC) describes itself as a family of independent churches aiming to encourage and equip one another to thrive and impact the nation with the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ. Aigburth Community Church is one of the 509 churches in the fellowship and last week Ralph and I (Steve) went along to the annual leaders conference to meet with other FIEC pastors and to get up to speed with what’s been happening over the last year.
It’s fair to say that the last few years have been quite revolutionary for the FIEC. A new governance structure, new leaders (directors), new mission statement, lots of new churches and even a new logo! The fruit of all these changes was much in evidence at the conference as we heard reports back from various quarters about how all things FIEC are shaping up, here are a few highlights;
1. Money for training
Trevor Archer, Director for Training, reported back on the new scheme to provide funding for Assistant Pastor posts in FIEC churches (rather like Curate schemes in the CofE). It was great to hear of more and more churches making these kind of posts available as a result of the training fund and along with ever improving relationships with theological colleges the future is bright for well trained pastors arriving in FIEC churches.
2. New churches joining
John Stevens, Director, read out a list of newly affiliated churches which was great evidence of the commitment of independent
churches to work together and stand together for the gospel in the UK. Like never before there was a tangible sense of looking forward to new church plants, new affiliations, and new initiatives rather than looking back longingly for a day in the past when everything was easier, which as John also pointed out from Daniel 1 probably never existed anyway.
3. Good governance
It’s probably a fair generalisation to say that in a country with a state church independency is often misunderstood so that despite our great historic roots people still suggest that we’re not ‘proper’ churches. Sadly independency is also at times misunderstood by it’s supporters to be an excuse to run churches however we want to without the kind of consideration for history or polity which would be helpful. To that end Gemma Adam’s, Director of Practical Services, report to the conference was really encouraging. Gemma’s team works with FIEC churches to make sure they are well governed, that constitutions are well written, staff employed correctly, buildings and property managed properly. All of which, she pointed out, is not only part of our responsibility but also our witness.
4. Great people
Finally one of the stand out things of the conference is just the number of great people involved in the FIEC, not just centrally running the show, but importantly in churches across the country. In time past when people asked for church recommendations in different parts of the UK I used to hesitate before sending them to the FIEC list because of a stereo
type church in my mind that wasn’t very appealing. Praise God those days are gone, and now some of the very clearest, most faithful and most active churches in the country are in the FIEC.