Stephen Mawditt – Redigging the Wells: A Remarkable Account of Rural Renewal
ISBN 978 1 912 72649 3
The author writes that this is not a ‘how-to’ book. Instead it is a remarkable story of the birth and development of an Anglican church plant in rural Norfolk from its inception in the 1970s to today.
The Fountain of Life church has strong connections with the New Wine Movement and has both benefitted from and contributed to its ministries. This might not be everybody’s ecclesiastical cup of tea, but anyone who leads a local church, or is concerned about the health of the Church in the UK, would benefit from reading this book. The author tells the story in 11 fast-moving chapters of how a church navigates the changing times.
Like all healthy churches, Fountain of Life has benefitted from certain key features.
Clear leadership: The church has had a history of continuity of leadership personnel and style. This, combined with a commitment to develop new leaders for fresh opportunities, has provided a stream of people raised up for ministry.
Openness to God and boldness in following a vision of what type of church they are building: At each key step in the church’s life there was a willingness to step out with carefully thought through but bold faith. All this was done while maintaining the objective of reaching people for Christ and developing them into disciples.
People matter: Here is a story of a church that was more than an organisation or institution. At each stage of its development, Fountain of Life kept in view the awareness that the church is made up of people and exists to serve people in God’s name.
I love the story of the young woman with a beautiful voice who had sung in the worship team, asked if she had done this type of thing before. She said: “No, this is the first time I felt as if I had the freedom to fail”. I guess that is what Barnabas would call the “evidence of the grace of God”.
The story might err on the side of avoiding the account of obstacles and pitfalls, and relating all the positives, but there are clearly a number of them. The story is worth telling and worth reading.
John Woods is a writer and Bible teacher based in West Sussex. He is also Director of Training at the School of Preachers in Riga, Latvia.