Richard Baxter's Church (1641-1660)

Overall Baxter spent about 19 years in the parish. He was a wonderful pastor, preacher and evangelist. He was a servant to his flock and this was seen in his attitude towards money. Although he did not earn very much Baxter was often giving money away to those in his Parish, whether they were believers or not. He had concern for the poor all his life and often wrote and spoke about the need to relieve the poor of the main things that oppressed them. His attitude to the elderly former vicar was typical of his generosity. As mentioned the vicar was incompetent and after a few years the parishioners removed him as vicar and installed Baxter but Baxter insisted that he kept his house and his former salary. Sadly Baxter did not reap from this kindness and when the High Church people gained power on the restoration of Charles II in 1660 the old vicar was reinstated and despite a petition from his parishioners, he refused to appoint Baxter as a mere lecturer.

When he arrived in the Parish he said that on Sunday, ‘There was about one family in a street that worshipped God and called on His name.’ When he left he said ‘You might hear an hundred families singing palms and repeating sermons as you passed through the streets.’ There were about 800 families in Kidderminster at that time and it appears that most of them became believers. His church was large and because of the success of his ministry they had to build five galleries in the church to cater for demand and he recounts in his Biography that the church was full each Sunday and he had a meeting each Thursday in his home that was always full. In addition, a group of younger parishioners met once a week to pray for three hours. The Holy Spirit was certainly moving in his Parish; Dr D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said 'Surely we must agree that in England in the case of Rogers of Dedham and Baxter at Kidderminster we are entitled to speak of revival.'

Baxter’s success as an Evangelist was in part due to his manner of preaching that was full of urgency; which was due to the fact that he often thought that he had but only a short time to live and so when he preached it was, ‘As a dying man to dying men,’ telling the people boldly what they were facing if they did not give their lives to Jesus. Baxter’s extraordinary ministry was all the more amazing considering the illnesses that debilitated him for most of his life. Baxter learned a lot about various diseases and actually practised as a doctor in his Parish for several years until he could persuade one to come and live in the town. Typically he never charged for this work and because of this many unsaved people came for treatment and he was able to speak to them about the Lord.

At the end of his ministry in Kidderminster, he believed that the vast majority of believers were very solid in their faith. The reason for this was his discipleship programme, involving his assistant and himself teaching 14 families between them two days every week. He met with people in his home and his assistant went out into the Parish. On his leaving Kidderminster the Bishop encouraged people to speak out against Baxter to undermine his work, but the seed he sowed bore great fruit and almost a hundred years later the great Evangelist George Whitfield came to Kidderminster and declared, ‘I was greatly refreshed to find what a sweet savour of good Mr Baxter's doctrine, works and discipline remain to this day.’