Hear from influential voices around the region about this opportunity to sow into the Kingdom of God in the Black Country:
BACK TO THE FUTURE – Part II
WHAT DIFFERENCE HAVE ‘WE’ MADE TO THE SPIRITUAL CLIMATE?
Last time, we concluded that NOW is a time to be re-investing in the spiritual climate of our region, and that this can only really be done together. If you’d like to take a fresh look at that, and to track the way we moved from sowing seeds to climate change, please click here.
This time, rather than trying to build on this further, I thought you might like to hear from someone else, and lots of them!
I am pleased to say that after asking a number of people from around the Black Country and beyond, we have some personal reflections to share with you as we remain focused on the past. We want to take you back and then next time we will be bringing you closer to the present before projecting into the future.
Please remember that when people use the term ‘The Net’, it largely represents a network of people from across the 4 boroughs, the numerous denominations we represent, the scores of congregations that connect in and on various levels and in differing seasons, and the organisations and businesses that all form part of this representation of the Body of Christ.
Let’s begin here with some of the wonderful gentlemen we’ve had the pleasure of knowing over many decades, many of them pioneers, founders and foundational gifts in Christ’s Body, invested by Jesus Himself into this geography and generation for such a time as this. I like to call them ‘fathers’.
The Net’s contribution to God’s Kingdom here in The Black Country has been at the forefront of the Lords will and purposes, for so many different people ,in so many different ways over the last 25 years . Prompting change , building Godly relationships, inspiring initiatives , assisting the local church , creating social impact , etc. I’m so pleased to be able to endorse , once again, a new chapter!
Paul Chamberlain (Church Leader – Dudley)
Belonging to the Black Country Net has been a means of friendship and inspiration for the twenty years that I have been pastoring in the region. There is nothing else to compare with the Net for its level of connection among such a wide spectrum of churches, ministries and organisations. The Net has been a consistent force for good and source of encouragement for so many.
Tony Wastall (Church Leader – Wolverhampton)
I believe God has used The Net as the main thrust in the four boroughs of the Black Country for opening channels of mutual respect, unity and communication between very diverse churches and I believe is being used in an on-going way to further unite the churches in corporate prayer and vision.
Andrew Hill (Love Sandwell)
It has been both amazing and a privilege to watch the development of Christian networks across the Black Country over the past two decades or so. These networks are born from a desire for unity across the whole Christian community to work together and reach our area with the good news of Jesus. Having Jesus at the centre of all that we are and all that we are doing together, through the power of the Holy Spirit, has seen many fantastic expressions of loving our communities emerge right across our region. And this unity is gaining momentum too – the organic nature of our collaboration can sometimes appear chaotic whilst the joy of being of one heart and one mind has focussed our purpose too. God is certainly on the move!
Mark Harland (Youth Leader – Church Leader – Businessman – Walsall)
It’s been a delight and an honour to be associated with the Net since the mid-90’s, meeting together as fellow leaders of churches across the Black Country. The thing that touched my heart and is unforgettable were the prayer movements like ‘Watchman’. To lead that session at the Bethel Centre, with around 3,000 prayer warriors, and welcome leaders from every aspect of Black County authorities was truly awesome for me! The sense of God, the sense of combined purpose and power and Kingdom authority had to be experienced to be understood! It’s the Lord’s promise, isn’t it? “Where brethren dwell together in unity, God commands the blessing.” Here’s to every future expression of the Net. I totally support it!
John Price (Church Leader – Walsall & Wombourne)
As an older man I have lived through many changes in the Christian Church. Sadly not all have been for good and have been marred by compromise and indecision which has led to heresy – and worse! My heart is warmed by the cry for Change in the Black Country. This is not ‘change for changes sake’ but, a result of the work done over a number years by the Net in calling churches together in the Black Country – primarily for Prayer. This has already made an impact on our area. We cannot allow this move to become stagnant and I am therefore convinced that as the leadership have sought God for direction, the Lord has spoken. Sowing seeds for Change is a further step! I fully endorse and welcome this initiative and commend it without reservation. Investing in Revival is a true Kingdom activity and the seeds sown will produce a great Harvest to the Glory of God.
Dr Tony Stone (Evangelist – Dudley)
I have always been encouraged by the consistency of the vision to see a move of God in the Black Country. Having been in the Black Country for 50 years and still involved in ministry this is not the time to give up. The vision is always for an appointed time and the leaders of the NET have always stayed true to the vision.The oxen ploughing the Black Country and opening up the ground to receive the seed was something that has always stayed with me and now it is time for the ploughs to go where the seed has been sown to break up the fallow ground and let the seed that has been sown germinate.
Peter Jenkins (Evangelist & Church Leader – Dudley)
I greatly appreciate the long-term commitment and wide-reaching embrace of the Love Black Country network. No other network has been able over so many years to connect so many leaders from so many Christian traditions from so many parts of the Black Country. And the network shows no signs of fading or stagnating. Rather, the relationally-based, prayer-fuelled, vision-inspired purpose to see Jesus Christ uplifted in the Black Country is finding new means of expression with each passing year. Long may the network continue and expand.
Robert Mountford (County Ecumenical Officer & Friend from our sister network in The Potteries).
YOUTH LEADERS & YOUNG PEOPLE
As many of you know, our roots were in connecting youth leaders and young people 20-25 years ago. Here are some of the people who were involved in this, and who invested themselves through the unfolding years too.
Over 20 years ago I first linked in with the “the net” through a evening of revaluation in Stourbridge. That night God brought into my life a network that would provide the greatest support , friends and inspiration that I have ever had within my 30 year Christian walk. Their actions gave me the tools to serve on the senior leadership team of my local church for 15 years. May God continue to bless this new generation and all streams of the “Net”.
Matt Stevens (Youth Leader – Sandwell)
I have been involved with ‘The Net’ for over 20 years perhaps longer. The Net has been very instrumental in facilitating youth events, youth leaders training, and many other initiatives across the whole of the Black Country. The vision of The Net has continued to evolve over the years, with changes in society and culture, and it is my belief that any new initiatives will continue to have a positive, lasting impact on the Black Country.
Lance Blackwood (Youth Leader now Church Leader – Walsall)
Received a paper letter from Mr Tim Fellows; an invite to attend a youth leaders gathering being held at Walsall Community Church. His first words are, Yes We’re Here Again, It’s Breakfast Time. Its September 1995 and what we didn’t realise in the early days of the so called “Net” was the fantastic and amazing journey God would be leading a small group of youth leaders across the four boroughs, to where it is today. The inclusive group which came together from different sized and denominational churches across the area, had only one thing in mind and that was to seek God’s heart and purposes in the youth generation of it time. The years that followed of youth prayer gatherings and weekends away touched the lives of so many, helped to grow spiritual leaders and warriors for Jesus. Now we see the fruit of what God had birthed all those years ago in the lives of many of the now leaders, whether church or community, an army of God Kingdom people stretching across the Black Country, touching the lives of the lost, hurting and marginalised people of the generations to come.
Nigel Atkins (Youth Leader – now Church Leader – Sandwell)
I have been involved in Net type stuff since my early teens. I would honestly say that it has played a huge role in who I am today in terms of how I lead in local Church activity, manage people at work but most importantly love Jesus. Bridge Builders, weekends away and a whole host of other things made me think differently. Initially this was troubling as it meant challenging things that I had based lots of my life on but in time has helped me see bits of a bigger picture and be released to serve God in different ways and ultimately believe that His Kingdom will come as its not down to me or even us! The beauty has been that it has never been just a ‘good event’. The people I have got to know during this have been there to discuss, inspire and laugh with helping me keep a focus on pursuing ‘Him’ even when I independently would not. The exciting thing is I am still involved and can’t even imagine what the future has in store!
Stephen Cook (Youth Leader & Charity Manager – Dudley)
Over many years I have been closely involved with The Net and the individuals who feel called to seek direction for it to fulfil its mission statement. I have been a recipient of the many blessings that have arisen as it has sought to equip the church; particularly in working with young people in the past, being involved with corporate prayer gatherings, developing relationships with others and seeing how this has brought many Christian groups much closer together, to more effectively build his kingdom in the borough. It has certainly been a source of inspiration and motivation and has often challenged me as part of the body of Christ to pray and act in fresh ways, to see change in our communities. Part of that challenge for me has been to financially invest in the organisation and I have always felt confident that ‘my seed’ has been faithfully ‘ploughed into the ground’ where the holy Spirit has wanted to bring about transformation. I have no doubt that as a greater level of investment is required in this new season, to cultivate a significant change in the spiritual climate, this will result in a greater level of impact upon the next generation living in this borough and beyond.
Neil Hambly (Youth Leader now Church Leader – Dudley)
For me and Tim the input and all we have received over the years though the Net has transformed our lives. This has been due to the time, space and weight that has been placed on the centrality of Christ in the Net settings we have been part of. As a result I believe that Jesus has been established in our lives individually, our marriage, our parenting, our work, our home, our families, literally every part of our lives. The Net weekends, the Gen Net nights, the relationships we have made with other believers has given us a foundation of faith that we now work from. And we are hugely grateful for that investment, for it is treasure from heaven.
Liz & Tim Barton (Youth Leaders now Church Leaders – Dudley)
During the early 1990’s The Net gave many young people the chance to grow in a Christian environment that was created and designed for them and in so many ways, by them. Teenagers of all ages were brought together and some given the opportunity to grow into youth leaders etc , which empowered them as individuals in their Christian walk and also their church where some eventually became senior leaders of their churches. The present day fruits of the Net can be seen right across the Black Country where some of the ‘then’ youth leaders are now Pastors or senior leaders supporting the next generations of youth to accomplish their own individual potential in the community and church.
Eddy Hughes (Youth Leader – Dudley)
NEXT TIME…MORE RECOLLECTIONS
Well, I hope that after reading these wonderful peoples’ testimonies and endorsements, you are as inspired as I am right now!
When we set out to connect the young people across the region in the early 1990’s, we had no idea of some of the twists and turns we would encounter on the journey, and not a clue that we would be here 25 years on, still going, passionate and desperate to see The Lord move in a greater way that we could ever dream. But here we are, and we remain incredibly grateful to The Lord for His miraculous provision, not only in finance, but also in terms of energy, passion, desire, vision and, best of all, PEOPLE.
I will forever be thanking Jesus when I meet Him face-to-face for the people He invested into the ‘us’ we now celebrate. Without doubt, the greatest aspect our the vision is both the quality and the quantity of the relationships that have developed and blossomed over so many years, across the denominations, the boroughs, and now the generations. Jesus is preparing the nets for a huge catch, and He’s doing it with ‘we’ and ‘us’. He has His plough in hand, and I believe the angels are looking on with massive anticipation right now.
Next time, I want to share just a few more testimonies with you from some more of YOU…..people who wanted to contribute too, and these will have a slightly different perspective as part of the corporate journey over the years has been seeking to shift our thinking outside of the walls of our churches as well as strengthening the hearts within.
So, until then, thanks so much again for listening, for reading this through, and thanks in advance for prayerfully considering investing your finances into ‘us’ further down the line.
That is our fundamental aim with these messages, though we dearly hope and pray that you are deeply encouraged as you track through the story with us.
The best is yet to come…
God Bless you all,
On behalf of Love Black Country
P.S. If you are already stirred and want to get involved now, you will find the details of how to invest here.