Dear brethren,

Please find below a ministry update from Brackenhurst Baptist Church. The following is an edited version of the pastors’ report delivered at the church’s fourth quarterly members’ meeting for 2019.

The past year, as most years, has included great heartache and great joy. It has been a year of ups and downs.

This year, the church was privileged to baptise into membership ten new individuals, including one household baptism of five members. This coming Sunday, we will witness two more baptisms as member applicants covenant with the church. Three baptisms this year have been teenaged children of existing members, an encouraging sign that God seems to be saving our children.

In addition to the nine baptisms, a further twelve members have covenanted with the church, having previously been baptised elsewhere. Three more previously baptised members will be brought affirmed this coming Sunday.

We were privileged to add to our number one new elder (Anton Beetge) as well as one elder candidate (Paul Moore), whom we look forward to appointing to the eldership in due course.

We have seen many visitors coming to our church this year, with several indicating interest in membership by attending the membership information class. Several of these have moved onto the next step of the membership process by beginning the formal membership material. At BBC, this means that an existing member leads the member applicant through an eleven-lesson basics of church membership course, which covers the following  subjects:

  1. The Bible
  2. The Gospel
  3. Our Confession
  4. Church Membership
  5. Church Discipline
  6. Church Ordinances
  7. Church Government
  8. Making Disciples
  9. Corporate Worship
  10. Church Associations
  11. Church Covenant

Pray for those who are undergoing these membership basics as they decide whether or not to covenant with our church. The church has also experienced numerous tangible answers to prayer, for which we are grateful.

Even as we are thankful for what the Lord is doing, we recognise that there room for improvement.

We have learned over this past year about what meaningful members’ meetings look like. For the majority of the church’s existence, our only “business” meeting was our  annual general meeting. Late last year, we introduced quarterly meetings. It was a learning process for us as a church, but it seems that there is a growing understanding within the membership of responsibility and accountability.

The need for improvement in covenant-keeping has become obvious. Members of the church are required to sign a church covenant, and while a majority are faithful in keeping these covenant commitments, there are some who are not. There are some who choose not to attend the Sunday evening prayer meeting. Others choose to stay home from our Sunday morning Family Bible Hour, some even neglecting to expose their children to our Sunday school ministry. These neglects seem to betray a lack of desire to be built up in the faith, and perhaps an unwillingness to be a team player. This is not healthy. We need to do better.

It has been a difficult year for all South Africans financially, and churches are feeling the pinch as much as anybody else. While God has been faithful in meeting our needs, the difficult financial climate is showing itself in our income and in our budget for 2020. The church has controlled expenses tightly for 2019 but will have to do better in 2020. There is some indication that some members are not being faithful in their stewardship, and we covet your prayers for integrity in this regard.

The elders have been persuaded for some time that there is need to restructure our diaconate. At present, the diaconate serves as a “board,” with deacons being appointed to the office and deacons then assigning responsibility within the diaconate. The deacons meet together as a “board” to discuss matters related to all diaconate portfolios.

The elders have become persuaded that the efficiency of the diaconate could be helped, and the burden relieved, by the church appointing deacons over particular portfolios rather than appointing people more generically as deacons. Particular areas of ministry have been identified in which leadership is required, and in the new year we plan to restructure the diaconate so that deacons are assigned particular responsibilities rather than appointing a deacon “board.” We are persuaded that this will help the deacons, the church, and anyone who is considering serving as a deacon. Pray with us that God will provide the right people to serve in areas where leadership is required.

In June this year, the church’s first intern—Shane Williamson—concluded his two-year internship. The church has been praying about a replacement ever since. The Lord has provided a replacement in the form of Makgale Molopo. Makgale is a faithful, single young man who is hungry for truth. He currently pastors a church in a township near Duduza. Given his particular dynamics, Makgale has agreed to join an abbreviated, six-month internship. He will continue to preach at his church every few weeks, arranging pulpit supply for the Sundays he will be at BBC. The church is excited to pour into Makgale’s life and to learn what we can from him. Please pray for him as he joins the church staff mid-January next year for six months.

There are a number of church members facing dire circumstances. Some are facing financial ruin. Others are facing severe health challenges. Some are facing heart-breaking relational challenges. More than ever, our church needs to be aware of and pray for those who are suffering. Pray with us that we will grow in our understanding and practice of what it means to mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice.

We are grateful that the church seems to be growing in its understanding of corporate prayer. Increasingly, members are gathering—some on Sundays, others during the week—to pray with and for one another. Our Sunday evening prayer meeting is growing in momentum. We are thankful that the Lord is impressing on the church the need for faithful prayer. Pray with us that this will continue.

Doug is taking an extended time of leave over the Christmas period. He will be travelling with his wife, Jill, to the United States, where they will be spending the holiday season with family. In addition to resting and reconnecting with family, Doug will take the opportunity to do some writing. Pray that this will be a restful and productive time for him, and pray for the remaining elders to offer wise leadership in his absence.

Thank you for taking the time to read this report. Be assured that Brackenhurst prays regularly for each Sola 5 church. We covet your prayers in return.