On The Edge
Some of Our Stories
Trusting God When Doors Keep Closing
When the House of Bishops’ authorised a liturgy to celebrate gender transition, I knew it was a big event, potentially the time to have to leave the Church of England. That unease grew, and On the Edge provided just the space we needed to think the issues through properly.
A month or so after the weekend, we knew we did need to leave. We prayed and pushed on many doors. Several new church plants and non-Anglican pastorates turned out not to be God’s plan. We learnt to trust that the sovereign God only closes doors because he is our heavenly Father who leads and provides.
We were very grateful for friends from On The Edge and elsewhere, as we lived with the unease that we needed to leave but could not find the right way to do so. Finally, after 2 years, God opened a door, and the next chapter of ministry has begun.
A New Job in the Church of England
In terms of our decision to stay - it is one we are monitoring.
At the moment it feels right to stay - despite the challenges.
If I am honest I just want to give a good crack at ministry within the Church of England and not be afraid to lead and speak and contend for biblical truth and see what happens.
It was a long process finding this new role - with lots of closed doors for various reasons. We have moved to a little church on a big estate with a great need for the gospel. It has been a good start, despite moving during lockdown, and we feel that God has brought us to the right place.
God Gave Us Joy From Our Sorrow
The Church of England gave us all possible benefits: a strategic building, funds, vicarage and staff. Despite all this the New Testament teaching on separation from false teachers convinced us we had to secure people a future outside the Established Church.
A key step was gathering to pray honestly and with tears for a faithful future, with some of those who could help make that a possibility.
Now, a few years down the road of seeing people serve and come to faith in a church independent of the C of E, we look back in wonder at the spiritual power we experienced in those prayer meetings, and we look around in thanks at all God is doing in our church.
The changes were incredibly painful, confusing and difficult, but we have found God to be faithful at every step. The spiritual benefits far outweigh any costs or inconveniences. We have often said looking back that it was only after we took steps forward in faith that we were able to see how rich God's provision would be.
Finding the Lord is Good and Faithful
Acting in conscience for the sake of Jesus and for the gospel is like abseiling. It’s easy to be paralysed and frozen looking over the edge. But when we stepped out we found we were actually held secure by the rope of his promises and provision and presence.
If you step away from the Canterbury-aligned structures, it will be tough. There will be some scary moments. There will be brick bats thrown at you. There will be relationships fractured. There will be grief and pain at people and things left behind.
However, the blessings really are hundredfold. Not least the freedom and release of leaving behind the shackles of compromise, as well as the joy and (re-) discovery of proper historic, orthodox, biblical, confessional, global Anglicanism.
For us it has been like children from a dysfunctional home beginning to experience what a proper family looks and feels like.
I Had to Follow My Conscience
For us, it was a question of: when does being faithful mean leaving the Church of England instead of trying to fight. We have such a desperate need for gospel churches, where the next generation can be discipled to lead the church. With, God-willing, 20 years of ministry ahead of me, I felt the gospel priority was to leave the institution but stay and build a church for the future.
It is costly to resign and walk away – you lose a lot – but if you think it is right to leave, you have to leave. There are things we doubt about how we did it – but not that we did. If I’d stayed, I think I would have gradually cauterised my conscience to the point where I was no longer being faithful to God and his gospel. That wasn't a risk worth taking!
A Stepping Stone
My family attended the first On The Edge. We were in great anguish, wanting to honour God, be faithful and yet not be foolish.
Listening to other's questions, realising we could not have all the answers, counting the cost and a host of other aspects were all helpful.
Eventually, we realised it was God's call on us and we did leave the Church of England. Things have not been easy by any means and much is still uncertain, yet despite this, we do have peace that what we did was right, even if what we thought was the final destination has turned out to be a stepping stone for something yet still forming.
Find out more about
On The Edge
Whether you are a lay person or an ordained minister, if you are wondering about how best to prepare for the future,
you can contact us in complete confidence to discuss your situation and find out about the next On The Edge gathering.