Hello Great Barr

Last week, we said goodbye to Bearwood and Smethwick and moved a short distance to the north of Birmingham.  Today, I thought I’d share some photos from our new area. I’ve three reasons for this.

  1. I’d love to encourage you to pray for us as we seek to encourage and enable church planting into the urban West Midlands. This is one of the areas that needs Gospel witness and so we’ll be seeking to make contacts, build relationships and find opportunities to share the good news.
  2. With that in mind, we are continuing to look for people willing to come and join us in the West Midlands. We’re specifically looking for people willing to get involved in pioneer church planting and for those who are interested in “on the job training” for pastoral ministry/planting.
  3. I wanted to offer a worked example of what is involved in stepping in and searching out as we seek to share the good news to help others thinking about how to prepare to reach and plant into a community.

I’ve mentioned before that when you are trying to get to know an area, then there are some helpful online tools like Data shine that give you lots and lots of statistics about an area including age demographics, employment, ethnicity, religious affiliation, social affluence, or deprivation etc. However, you can only get so much from such resources and because they rely on census data which then takes time to update, can be significantly out of date, especially where populations are mobile.  So, there’s no substitute for boots on the ground. 

I’d encourage you to start by walking the area. Find where the local landmarks are, watch as well for where people congregate. Get a feel for the type of people who live and work locally, pop into local shops, see where the bus routes run to.  Take lots of photos too.  Spend quite a bit of time doing this and take time to pray for the area.   Then start to seek opportunities to make contact with people. I tend to do this through two means. The first is that I go and knock on doors. I might take with me some invites to church services, some Gospels and maybe a church newsletter.  This is partly about introducing myself, the church I’m part of and the Gospel but it’s also another opportunity to find out about the people who live behind the doors.  The other thing I do is find where the main local shops are and take a few Gospels and some invites with me and find people to talk to. 

Well, here we are in our new house which seems to be on the border, overlapping three areas, Kingstanding, Great Barr and Perry Barr. Part of the area is also known as Old Oscott. To start to give you a feel for the area, here are some photos from my walks over the past few days.

Queslett Nature Reserve. One of the beautiful things about living in Birmingham is that you are living in Britain’s second largest city but you are often only a short walk from nature reserves, parks and countryside. I believe that this nature reserve has been developed on what was formally land fill or the local tip.
Next door to the nature reserve is a modern housing development. How do we reach these contemporary estates, often described as “soulless” when there often hasn’t been provision for community life?
St Matthews – our nearest Anglican Church. From what I can tell, it’s high Anglican (Anglo-Catholic) offering mass on Sundays and Fridays.
Our local further education college offers a range of practical courses.
We are close to Barr Beacon meaning we are at one of the city’s highest points. There are breath taking views across the urban landscape.
Also, very close by is the M6 motorway. This in effect cuts our part of north Birmingham from the main part of the city giving it a distinctive feel. Imagine living just below this busy highway? You’ve probably driven past and never entertained the idea that you might be practically driving right over someone’s back garden!
Perry Barr Stadium where there is Speedway racing (motorbikes) and Greyhound racing (dogs). Not, I hope, at the same time.
The river Tame
Did I mention that Birmingham has more canals than Venice? Perhaps not all as scenic. Here we are by one of the locks -designed to enable boats and barges to move up and down different levels.

Well, please pray for Great Barr, for churches seeking to reach North Birmingham including Christchurch, Real Life Church (Sutton Coldfield) and Church Central North (the church family we have become part of). Please pray for us as we find our feet in this new area.

Get in touch if you want to find out more about what we are up to in this new stage of life and how you can partner with us.

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