Paul was invited to speak at Coton Green Church near Tamworth, Staffordshire. Coton Green is a true pioneer church that started off meeting in schools and homes. As the fellowship was tested the pastor, David Shearer, held true to his call and the congregation grew. Through various trials faith was honed and when a seven acre field they were believing God for was sold to a higher bidder at auction all seemed lost, nonetheless they called on The Lord who had called them and the buyer let them buy it off him with the payments affordably staged usury/interest free! With a tiny team led by the pastor, including the elders a farmer, plumber, and a carpenter who was a capable project manager they formed their own building company, which became the main contractor that subbed work out and used many volunteers in the church. Aiming for a thousand people the Coton Green Centre is a purpose-built non-religious facility designed to serve fellowship and community alike. Successful churches like these are often called independent or non-denominational, but it would be more accurate to say faithful, focused, mission orientated and biblical!
Founding pastor David Shearer, known as PD, has many testimonies of what God has done and the rest of the elders and team are just as inspirational. It is notable these include teenagers, fantastic! As I type the building is being re-constructed internally to cope with another expansion of ministries and purposeful activities. I’ve spent most of my years in a denominational setting where a career path is up for grabs and many buildings readily available. Without doubt denominations are ideal for christians who want a career ‘in the ministry,’ as they call it, as they can work their way through a denomination rather than start from scratch. If they play their cards right they can even avoid difficult circumstances and still get a pension at the end! This is because the skills needed for a successful denominational career are identical to those needed to climb any other corporate ladder, but when you see churches like Coton Green it inspires you to remember that those who sow in tears sure do suffer to get there, but nonetheless they really can still reap with joy.
In denominations you will of course find faithful people who don’t simply jump on a career path but pay the price to prominence through faithful service, walking with God and suffering along the way. In my old denomination Eldon Corsie of Kensington Temple, Derek Green in Chelmsford and Steve Derbyshire in Ilford immediately spring to mind, these outstanding men didn’t need a denomination at all, it’s the denomination that needed them! Coton Green Church is an excellent example of a non-denominational church with a pastor and team that has concentrated on mission, paid the price and used their resources wisely, but for the visiting preacher that presents a problem! Preaching at Coton Green for the first time feels more like an audition than a sermon as in this congregation you are only as good as your ministry. In a church where they don’t carry plastic credentials, plastic credentials don’t carry much weight! What matters is your ministry and your lifestyle, do you see fruit or not? End of story! This is a big stress to be put under when you are a minister of God’s Word, but a good one.