Sarah and I really appreciated the support and encouragement we’ve had from so many since we shared back at the end of 2020 that we were moving on from Bearwood Chapel. I thought it might be helpful to give you a little update on where we are at. I’m hoping to follow up with some more detailed information about our future plans fairly soon.
You may remember that back at the end of 2020/beginning of 2021 I shared that there were two possibilities. One was that I should look at applying for a conventional pastoral position within an established church. We took a little bit of time to explore some possibilities. Perhaps one day I’ll write in a bit more detail about our experience here. We visited a few churches both informally and for formal interviews and to preach. We saw so much to be encouraged about as we saw God at work in different places and how churches were coming through the pandemic, tested but faithful. We also saw a lot of challenges. I must admit that I wasn’t always convinced that the types of application/interview processes were helpful for building relationships that might lead to someone joining a team (but that is for another time). There were a couple of possibilities but either I wasn’t quite right for them or they for me or the timing was wrong.
A crucial point is that most church positions that were advertised seemed to be in suburban or even rural contexts and we still feel strongly called to Gospel work in urban contexts.
The other option I talked about early on was about me being freed up to get more involved in encouraging and supporting urban mission and church planting through recruiting planters and providing training, mentoring and partnership. This arose out of a desire not just to see one or two full churches in a city but to see a city full of churches. Throughout the last year, it seemed clearer and clearer to us that this was the direction of travel.
One question was whether this might mean a move to another urban context. I’ve still got a great concern for my home city, Bradford and for West Yorkshire but those doors did not seem to be open at this time and we were increasingly aware that it seemed right to stay put in the West Midlands. There remains a great need for Gospel witness in the Black Country, as well as to the North and the West of Birmingham whether through new churches starting or existing ones experiencing revitalisation.
So, for the time being, this seems to be where we are called to serve. This will involve a small move to a new house in the north of the city, getting involved in serving through a local church there and looking to do more in terms of seeking out people who are interested in church planting and would appreciate training and support. This will also involve seeking to raise financial support too, initially for my time but longer term looking to help others raise support too as they seek to come and serve.
Look out for more details as I share them and please get in touch too if you want to find out more about what we are doing so that you can pray for us or if you would be interested in supporting the work.