The West Midlands is home to 2,607,000 people. That includes over 1 million in Birmingham and half a million living in a cluster of towns and urban villages where the Industrial Revolution started known as The Black Country.
Over the past decade, significant work went into encouraging church planting via The 2020 Birmingham Initiative, a project with the aim of seeing 20 churches planted (including replanting and revitalisation). A lot happened and the initiative continues with a desire to see a further 30 churches planted by 2030 with the hope that each of these churches will go on to plant again. In other words
20+30*2 = 100 churches planted, replanted or revitalised in order to reach a city and region with the good news of Jesus Christ. If this is going to happen then a significant amount of that will need to involve planting into inner city and council estate contexts particularly into the North and East of Birmingham as well as westward into the Black Country.
One way in which I can see that happening is by people being willing to come and get involved in planting, not with the traditional expectation that you will go into an area armed with a group of 30 mature Christians, a budget, staff team and building. Realistically this isn’t going to happen both because this is about going into areas where Christians are not naturally moving into and furthermore because if 30 young twenty somethings all turned up at once then they’d stand out like a sore thumb and be greeted with a level of suspicion.
However, imagine the difference that could be made if a family or couple moved into an area, bought or rented a house and linked into a church a little bit further afield began to share their life and faith with their neighbours.
One thing I would really love to see is 2 or 3 people willing to do this over the next 3 or 4 years. The idea would be that linked into that local church, you would be freed up from ministry commitments there. Your ministry would be to love, serve and reach your own neighbourhood. What if alongside that you were able to train for Gospel ministry. You’d be able to access online modules in Theology, pastoral counselling and leadership and link up regularly with others training for ministry to help and encourage one another. Local pastors would get alongside you to coach and mentor you.
Look forward two or three years to what might be possible by then. Now, it could be that there isn’t anything tangible to show for those few years. However, you will have been a witness and you will have gained useful training and experience for moving on into a more traditional pastor or church planter role. It may even be that there are a couple of people beginning to engage with the gospel, a few more added to the local church, a fledgling small group. It is also possible that there may be signs of a church plant beginning to emerge. With people putting their trust in Jesus. As well as new converts you may also find that you connect with other Christians living locally who start to get a vision to join with you and reach their community for Christ.
I’d love to hear from you if this starts to chime with you. It may be that this is something you’d be willing to consider for yourself or you know someone else. Alternatively, maybe you would be willing to support potential planters through prayer and giving. Please do get in touch via the contact form.