How it all started
Searching for a spiritual home
In 2010, after a fruitless search for a "spiritual home", I knew that my family and I had come to a dead end. I had not found the place where I felt God wanted us to be and had started to wonder where the Lord would lead us next.
After much prayer and deliberation, I took a train out into the Peak District and climbed up into the hills of Edale, seeking the Lord, with this very subject on my mind. When I returned home, it was with a conviction that God wanted me to start a "Christian Family Mission" to reach out to the people of Stockport. I had been street-preaching for a number of years and had begun to see the need for a place where I could invite those who showed an interest in the gospel; a place for fellowship, discipleship and teaching.
As a family we began to hold a Sunday morning meeting in our home. This became known as "Church in the side-room!" Christian friends occasionally joined us and we followed a simple format. I would open in prayer, and then we would sing traditional hymns followed by preaching from the Bible. I look back with great fondness on this time and the tender way in which the Lord did not despise our humble beginnings.
Having a house church was one thing, but I felt that God wanted us to have a building to use for His glory, a more public place. We started to look for premises, but could not find anywhere suitable. Out of the blue, a friend informed me that St Andrews Community Hall had been vacated by a local church and was now up for hire. This was great for us as it was literally just down the road. I contacted the Rector of St Mary's who owned the building and made an appointment to see him. Imagine my dismay when he told me that because of certain legal responsibilities and requirements by the Bishop, it would take a whole year before we could be in there! This was one of many lessons that the Lord taught us in being patient.
On Easter Sunday 2011 we held our first morning service as Stockport Wesleyan Church. The only congregation was my wife and my children and I preached on Exodus 32:26 "Who is on the LORD's side? Let him come unto me." It was an exciting moment, but in the back of my mind, as I looked out at my wife and young children, I began to wonder, who (other than God) will be on OUR side?
I had been saved as a young man in a Pentecostal church. The worship was contemporary, the preaching emotional. Yet as I began to seriously study the Word of God, I felt they approached the Bible in a somewhat cavalier fashion. As I looked for a more consistent and scholarly approach to study, I began to gravitate towards others of the same mind. It was about this time that I was introduced to the writings of John Wesley, William Booth, William Tyndale and others, and was struck by the enormously radical nature of their teaching. I had never encountered doctrines, or lives like theirs and came to realize that modern evangelicalism had left something deeply vibrant, and spiritually revolutionary behind. I wanted to rediscover and if possible, recover that loss.
It was a conscious and deliberate decision on my part to retrieve the simplicity and piety of the traditional evangelical service. We decided to dispense with fashionable terminology and call our service, a "service" and our Bible-Study, a "Bible-Study." We bought some copies of the old red "Redemption Hymnal" and I preached from the 1611 King James (Authorized) Bible. We also decided to keep our children in the meeting, based on the pattern given in Deuteronomy 31:12.
Slowly and gently, the Lord began to give the increase...
Pastor Paul Jennings.