One of the values we share at Solas is our commitment to the local church. That isn’t merely something that we sign up to as an article of faith however, it is a deeply held conviction which shapes every aspect of our work.
If you skim through our news pages you will see that all the work we do is in partnership with churches. That is with one notable exception – we also work to support things such as student Christian Union groups! The point is that we never do any ministry in merely “Solas” events, either in our evangelism or our training work. You will never see us advertising a Solas-mission, or a Solas-conference which belongs exclusively to us. Every event where we are sharing the gospel or training Christians to share their faith, is done at the invitation of the local church, where it supports the needs of the local church, in order to grow the local church.
It also means that all the members of staff at Solas are members of local churches ourselves. We don’t operate as ‘lone-rangers’ either in our personal or ministry lives, because the local church matters to us.
Para-church organisations such as Solas, and other mission agencies have their place; but we are always conscious that our job is to serve the local church. I once came across a mission agency that seemed to think that the local church existed to advance it, not the other way round. The reason that that is wrong is because the church is the biblically mandated thing – mission-agencies are logistically useful for God’s people though.
In practice this means that overseas mission agencies have specialist skills in training and supporting people doing ministry all over the globe that would be a burden on the local church to manage. For us it means this: while pastors ‘belong’ to a local congregation, evangelists need to be available for the whole ‘body of Christ’ across the land. Solas exists as a practical way of making the particular skills and ministries of evangelist-apologists like Andy Bannister and Gareth Black available to churches all over the country.
Then secondly it means that we are delighted to work with small churches as well as large ones; from city-centre congregations teeming with students to more remote Highland congregations and new church-plants just starting out. For us it is a genuine joy to have friends and fellowship with wonderful people in all these contexts. The practicalities of that for us are that while we can share the costs of ministry with large thriving churches, we also know that smaller churches can’t do that to the same extent – and some student groups struggle even more. Like all ministries we have to cover our costs, but our commitment to reaching as far as we can, and working with churches irrespective of their size or location remains undiminished.
Our vision at Solas is to grow our team of evangelist-apologists and to have them trained and ready to serve churches across the UK. With Andy in Scotland, Gareth in Belfast and associates in Edinburgh and London, we’re building towards that goal. However, we would love to get to the stage where a pastor in Plymouth or Powys, or a minister in Manchester or Morayshire could call us and we could help them to reach their community for Christ. To achieve that we need to find the right people and to raise significant sums of money. Please pray that The Lord would help us to achieve this for Him and His church. And help us if you can!
If you are reading this and are part of a local church who might benefit by working with us, please do get in touch – we’d love to hear from you.
“Christ loved the church and gave himself for it” Eph 5:25