This is the remarkable story of Fountain of Life, a Church of England missionary congregation in rural Norfolk. From its pioneering conception thirty years ago to becoming a strategic resource church today, its long-time leader Stephen Mawditt reflects on the key values and spiritual principles that have brought it this far. It’s a story that will encourage you to see the kingdom come in your own life, and to redig the wells in your own church and community, whatever the setting.
One of the most common charges levelled against “Spirit-led” initiatives in the church is that they don’t last. So, I’m particularly delighted to see this honest and encouraging record of a visionary work in Norfolk that has endured and indeed flourished for more than thirty years. In this helpful account of faith, fellowship and fruit we see the faithfulness of God to those who seek to follow Him.
This is a highly instructive and inspiring story of rural renewal. But what makes it so much more valuable is that it recounts one of the most innovative adventures in rural mission. Stephen (and Martin before him) is one of the most releasing leaders we know and this is what has led to a lay movement of multiplying diverse expressions of Church across Norfolk. His exposition provides a picture of what a truly biblical “resourcing church” can look like in the twenty-first century.
I am so pleased that Stephen Mawditt has written this book. Pippa and I are most grateful to him and Martin Down for all their visionary support over the years. Stephen is a pioneer of the faith whose passion for telling people the good news of Jesus has changed lives and been an inspiration to many, many people.
So many of our stories of church and kingdom growth are set in cities, with their many advantages, obvious and less obvious. What a joy to read a tested and ongoing story of mission and service in a place that might never get the headlines but where God’s heart for people and the power of His Spirit to transform have been proven to be just as great!
Stephen Mawditt has done a great service to the Church by writing down the story of Fountain of Life Church. He describes, in story after story, its journey from small beginnings to being a church that is resourcing the wider area, working with their bishop, planting congregations and missional communities, developing ministries that are touching the lives of so many people, and giving away all that God has grown within their midst. I loved the combination of the church being led by the Spirit of God, with leaders making courageous, faith-filled decisions, people coming to faith in Christ, the generosity of the people of God on a mission to love their neighbours and give to bless the wider Church, and a growing vision that has been worked out in practical, down-to-earth ways. It is an inspiring read and a great encouragement to the huge number of rural churches in England to identify and make space for other rural resource churches to bring growth and transformation afresh in their own areas. We need more Fountains of Life!
Testimonies of faith inspire us and remind us that we serve a God who loves to do extraordinary things through ordinary people. That is what Redigging the Wells does – it will inspire you and remind you of how Jesus transforms people’s lives through His Church and the wonderful things that can come from a community of His people who are ready to step out in faith in response to His call.
God did a new thing in rural Norfolk when the Fountain of Life was born. An experience of renewal; a longing to serve; a mission to evangelise; a commitment to a rural location; a willingness to take risks for Christ – these were all elements in this adventure of faith. So too were the challenges of creating a new congregation. There were growing pains. The story is not one without cost, but there is no authentic Christianity without suffering to overcome.
The growth of the Fountain of Life has continued. The Holy Spirit has led the congregation and its leadership in directions they did not think they were called to go. There was a lot of faithful listening and discernment. It was this openness to God’s future which meant it was a privilege for me to be the Bishop of Norwich for most of the first two decades of the Fountain of Life’s existence. God blessed this adventure of faith. His blessings continue. There is much to learn from Stephen Mawditt’s excellent account. May the Fountain of Life long continue to be the bearer of streams of living water in God’s Church.
News & Reviews
‘A visionary work that has endured and flourished.’
Rev Canon J.John
In the Church, we are used to hearing stories of God renewing and redeeming communities in our cities. But what might a work of God look like in the countryside, with its different demographics, resources and – crucially – geography? Redigging the Wells tells us just that!16 Jul 2021
The New Thing
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? (Isaiah 43:19)
It all began in 1989 in the local village shop. Christine was married to John, one of the churchwardens at St Nicholas’ Church, and with her husband ran an electrical retailer based in the village of Ashill. One evening, John and Christine had a meal with the new rector and his wife...13 Jul 2021