01 November 2015
60 seconds with... Bishop Donald Bolt
Bishop Donald Bolt has just finished his first year as the national overseer for the New Testament Church of God, England
& Wales. Amaris Cole caught up with the busy leader, asking about the challenges for the Church, and how Bishop Donald intends to lead his church through them.
Congratulations on completing your first year in this role. What’s been the best thing God has done in that year?
Thank you for your good wishes. This first year has been a bit of a roller-coaster with inevitable challenges, but has also been most rewarding and enlightening. At the start of my tenure, God gave me a clear vision for the way He wanted the church to go. Being able to deliver this vision clearly, and seeing my fellow leaders and members adopt this vision and begin to implement it in their localities, has been one of the most rewarding things to have happened so far.
What’s been the biggest challenge?
One of the biggest challenges I have faced is getting to grips with the complexities that go alongside leading 138 congregations across England and Wales.
The NTCG is one of the oldest black Pentecostal denominations, what role does it have for the future?
Firstly, I must say that I would not agree with us being described as a “black Pentecostal church”. It so happens that the majority of our members are of black origin, but we are very anxious to purport that we are a church for people of all nationalities and all are welcome. More than 60 years ago, this church was started out of a need to embrace immigrants from the Caribbean who were either not welcomed in the traditional British churches, or for whom the style of worship was alien. Back then, our founders created a church whose main purpose was to propagate the holistic gospel message of Jesus Christ to those in need. Today and in the future, the purpose – much like the message – is the same. It is only the packaging and presentation that may need to evolve in order to reach an ever-changing community.
How important do you think unity is for the Church?
Unity is important in every aspect of society - whether the Church or otherwise. It is only with unity that we can work positively towards achieving goals. This is not a ‘one-man-band’; therefore without unity we will spend our time in-fighting and never progress.
This is a challenging time for the Church. What issues are facing the NTCG specifically and can they be overcome?
I believe one of our biggest challenges is finding the right way to bridge the gap between the younger and older generations of our church; and thereby preparing the younger generation to lead the church in the decades ahead. This is not insurmountable. It is something that can be achieved with patience, understanding and mutual respect for other people’s views.
With the world changing and worldviews seeming increasingly liberal, how can the Church stay relevant?
The gospel will always be relevant. And in spite of government legislation and changing interpretations on what is morally acceptable, we need to ensure that we do not compromise on biblical standards that never change. As long as we remain true to those biblical standards, there is room for movement in the way we do things.
Our latest research by the One People Commission shows nearly 30 per cent of millennials have frequent doubts about their faith. What advice would you give to those wrestling?
It is not only millennials who may sometimes doubt their faith. Us as Christians will sometimes have doubts too because we are mere human beings. Even in the Bible, historically, you will find people whose faith had been tested. Whether we have great faith or little faith, we can still move mountains. The problems occur when we have no faith. I would encourage each of us in those times when our faith is tested or feels low, to refer to the source of our strength. Study the word of God and put your trust in His promises. The Bible says in Proverbs 3: 5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” I have always relied on these words throughout my spiritual walk with God and will continue to do so because His word will never return void.