As promised, I am endeavouring to keep you up to date about what our future plans involve. In the run up to Christmas, we began to listen, just to hear what possibilities are out there. We also wanted to be clear in our minds about the specific type of ministry we believe that God wants me to be involved in. Now I don’t want to over spiritualise this. God can use me in any setting possible and I am ready for that to be different to what we are expecting. However, I think there is a sense in which it is wise to look at where your gifts and experience seem to point and the sorts of things you enjoy and are passionate about.
For example, in my case, I love a good holiday in the countryside but practically due to my eye sight and transport issues and being aware of what makes me tick, I’m not sure that I am likely to find myself wanting to work in a rural setting. Instead as I mentioned in previous posts, I am drawn towards gospel work in an urban context where there are opportunities to train and equip others for such work and where it is possible to encourage further church planting in an area. I don’t want to settle for pastoring the fullest church in an area I am more concerned to see that area full of churches.
Having that idea clarified in my head enables us to look at the possibilities and see that some are automatically ruled out. Others, however may still provide a few “grey areas” to consider as we discern whether there is a fit between me and the context. There are some cases where we are much more in control of either ruling the opportunity in or out. The possibility of planting a new church for example does not depend on a church voting to call me. However, even still it would be presumptuous to go somewhere without other churches in that area recognising the need. Indeed, if we went down that route, we would first of all want to be part of a church in the vicinity that was willing to welcome us as members, where we could be an encouragement to that church and where it was then willing to commission us for the specific work of planting. There are of course other situations where we have much less control. Where a church has simply advertised for pastor then we have to go through their process and they are much more clearly in the driving seat as they seek to assess who is the right man with the right fit for the role. Like any job application proves that of course means there are going to be ups and downs, processes we would have handled differently and “nos” that will feel like rejections. In some cases, we won’t be surprised and will even have been moving towards the conclusion ourselves but that doesn’t necessarily make a “no” easier to hear. Just as when we first came to Bearwood 10 years ago, we had to let a few churches know that we would not be taking things forward with them -and surprisingly some were disappointed by this.
It remains my expectation that we are unlikely to move anywhere until the summer. We therefore want to use this present season wisely. I recognise that we have just come through a challenging season and so part of this time is for rest and refreshment, an enforced unplanned sabbatical if you like. However, I also recognise that there is kingdom work I can still be getting on with. That’s why over this time I will in effect be self employed rather than unemployed and continuing to try and provide training and support for those involved in urban mission. If you want to find out about ways in which you can partner with us and support us, please click here.
The other thing we felt it was important to do was to get involved with a local church, to belong and be committed there as much as possible. It is tricky knowing that this will be for a short period of time but we are still doing our best to do what anyone else would do, to get to know a church and see if this is the right home for us before joining as members.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve enjoyed fellowshipping with a church in Birmingham called Church Central South. The church is part of a family of churches across the city under the Church Central banner. They started out as a church plant on the west of Birmingham and then moved to a central location before starting different sites in the South, West and North of the City. Last year the church agreed that each site was now ready to become a church in its own right with its own elders. We know that it is likely to be a short stay for us but this feels like an exciting time to be spending with the church. We’ve felt very welcome and supported in the first few weeks and it of course helps that we have known the pastor, Jon Bell over a number of years through 2020 Birmingham.
Please continue to pray for us, we appreciate it. Stay in touch and do ask us questions.