Seeding for Change Part 3:

More about this opportunity to sow into the region! In Part 3 we look into the ‘third sector’ or ‘Charity and Organisation world’, and Christian Business networks that are alive and kicking in The Black Country!

BACK TO THE PRESENT – Part 3

BACK TO THE PRESENT – Part III
WHAT DIFFERENCE HAVE ‘WE’ MADE TO THE SPIRITUAL CLIMATE?

Welcome back!

Last time, we took you back into our history for the second time with personal testimonies from people who were part of our formative fabric, ‘fathers’ and ‘early adopters’ who helped to form our relational network’s DNA.

If you want to do a little revision; click to see Part 1 & Part 2

In Part II, you heard these peoples’ reflections and you hopefully sensed the value they placed on what they helped to shape and release, and the gratitude expressed to those of you who invested into our early infrastructure, the skeleton that supported the life in the body.

As we’ve told you before, the purpose of these ‘Seeding for Change’ emails is to encourage more of you to come on board now and help us invest into a new season where we genuinely believe we can see the spiritual climate over our region change even more…….

In a few weeks’ time, we’ll be asking you to invest into  ‘US’.
You’ll hopefully have a much better of WHY by then…..
And, if you enjoy the journey along the way, you can do so now by clicking here.

This time, we will bring you back to the present day with a little more narrative, and plenty more personal reflection and testimony. We did this in Part II by focusing on ‘church and congregational’ perspectives, but today in Part III, we’re going to take you more into the ‘third sector’ or ‘Charity and Organisation world’, and also the Christian Business networks that are alive and kicking in The Black Country, as you’d hopefully expect with a history like ours!

We’ve sought to bring together all manner of people in our 25 year history. You’ve heard from youth leaders and church leaders primarily so far, whereas today, you’ll hear from people who were foundational in what we used to call ‘Business Net’, and more latterly ‘the sectors’, as well as some key people from what we framed as the ‘Association of Christian Enterprise, or ACE Black Country.

Many of you are probably not aware of much of this, but let me tell you that Jesus is alive and well in these ripe fields of our region, and there are some wonderful people out there pioneering and influencing way more than we can yet see.

Here are some of our pioneering leaders’ thoughts from these fields;

‘THE PIONEERS’

We can’t operate as islands – although as leaders we often may feel isolated. Networks are the life-blood, the energy, the learning, the connectedness which holds together an essence of organisational progress. ‘The Net’ is one such network, providing spiritual insight and challenge, together with like-minded leaders who share a common heart for Jesus to transform the area we call The Black Country … and from the Black Country … the World.

Steve Clay (Black Country YMCA)

When our founder, Wendy Fryatt, started Black Country Foodbank, she was able to use the roads that people in ‘The Net’ have spent many years building and developing through relationship. How do you start 19 distribution points with Church connections over the Black Country? It happens quickly and effectively through conversations where this is trust and acceptance. Even recently we needed to consolidate our work in Walsall. After one conversation with a Church leader in Walsall we had a contact that became our Walsall champion!
Another example was when the Brierley Hill Project was founded. Where do you go for an accountant, an architect, funding advice, volunteers, financial supporters, prayer support and much more??? You go to your contacts. However these can be limited, so to be able to be connected to a wider network where all these people and provision are is so liberating and releasing, and helps establish some great ecumenical projects. Together we are stronger.

John Cook   (Black Country Foodbank / Brierley Hill Project)

(Judges Chpt. 1. ) ‘You help me possess my territory and I’ll help you possess yours’….was the message from one Israelite tribe said to another.  The decades mission of The Net illustrates this approach, in seeking collectively, churches, social enterprises etc , in seeking the peace and prosperity of the Black Country.  The Vine Trust Group’s mission has benefited from the Net’s role in mobilising the wider Body of Christ.

Kevin Davis   (The Vine Trust)

I believe if we want to seriously advance God’s Kingdom we need intentionality and investment and in particular, nurture of the younger generation into leadership.  During my time with The Net, I have witnessed churches and organisations coming together with shared vision and heart, and a passion to pray.  We are undoubtedly stronger when we work together, and can fulfil the call to Disciple The Nations.

Rachael Orrell  (Saltmine Trust)

“I have been immensely blessed both personally and professionally by the relational network that has been created and is sustained by amazing individuals working on behalf of Love Black Country. Within the work that I do with Hope into Action, I would have really struggled to know how to approach Pastors about getting involved with housing the homeless if it were not for the pre-existing relationships that have grown within this context. On a personal level I have had the opportunity of meeting some fantastic people, connecting with their hearts and learning so much about how we fit together within the body across the region. We are made to be relational beings but it is not always easy to find the kind of context for connecting relationally outside of our own churches and circles of friend that Love Black Country provides”.

Matthieu Lambert   (Hope Into Action)

Last Christmas, we put an event for many of these Leaders or Christian Organisations
at The Copthorne Hotel near Merry Hill, and we had over 300 people gathering together to celebrate the varied excellence in the delivery of social care and provision to our 4 boroughs, and it was both a privilege and an eye-opener to see and proclaim the scale and the degree of impact so many of the Christian organisations are making.

They are a vital part of The Body of Christ, yet so often the hidden parts of this body that 1 Cor 12 talks about, so often without honour or recognition.

We calculated that with just the organisations in the room, and there are many more who would see themselves as part of ‘us’ but who for various reasons were not there on the night, if we take advantage of their desire to be part of the ‘us’ we keep referring to, then WE, as a collective Body…..;

-together employ over 700 people in and across the 4 boroughs
-have a volunteer base of well over 1000 people
-contribute over £25m to the local economy each year

We realise that there are people who only see ‘church’ as what happens on a Sunday morning, but we’re very thankful that we’ve been able with others to help broaden many of our mindsets over the years to realise that a lot happens in and for The Kingdom in the other 166 hours of the week!

We hope to develop this network over the coming years, and this is just one of the areas that we feel needs very specific and timely investment to do so, and to do so WELL.

‘THE BUSINESS PEOPLE’

And here are some reflections from some of our business people, some of whom have been meeting and praying together for 20 years now with a long term vision of resourcing Kingdom activity in and for The Black Country……

‘The Net’s greatest strength is to facilitate connections and relationships between different parts of Christ’s body across the Black Country.  It is through these relationships that initiatives have been launched and supported all over the area impacting many.
As a business, we have chosen to invest into this because we believe that great things are possible when people work together in unity”.

Tim Guidotti  (Ex-youth leader now Businessman – Sandwell)

‘The Bigger Picture’
We spend most of our lives in silos of one shape or description. The opportunity to connect horizontally with like-minded people rarely happens – but when it does it can be a revelation. From the outset of my involvement with The Net, back to the days of the birthing of what was then Business Net, what became apparent was that God did have a bigger picture plan for the Black Country and that in order to see it realised we had to connect, pray and build relationships. The momentum was all about resourcing, relationships and transformation – it still is today. I don’t think God has changed His mind about the Black Country! In my humble opinion, it’s never been about ownership and being an organisation, it’s been about Jesus and us together. Great foundational stuff lies behind us, and great things are beginning to appear now, but greater things are yet to come.

Jeremy Watson  (Businessman – Wolverhampton)

Money makes the world go around! English dictionary quotes “money to be extremely important, as many ordinary events could not happen without it”.
Do we desire the extraordinary?
Our forefathers sowed many gifts and prayers into the Black Country and never saw their fruit. Do we believe it is important in 2017 to sow? For without sowing “many things won’t happen”
As a person in business, I wanted to play our part and invest into the spiritual future of the Black Country.

Robert Chapman    (Businessman – Sandwell)

I have been involved with the Net since its inception & I remain passionate about seeing the Kingdom of God come in our area and am convinced that the cross denominational approach adopted has been used mightily by God over the years the Net has operated.
My initial involvement was as a Christian businessman and being involved helped me to see how being in business can be a real calling and ministry, and I remain excited about the way the Kingdom can be resourced through business.
My later involvement has been as a church leader and again the coming together of Church ministers from across the region inspires and encourages working together at all  levels and is a hallmark of our area.
I totally endorse the newer initiatives around family champions and have a strong sense that God has spoken clearly to us about His heart for reaching lost generations through families and I am so excited about what He has planned for us in the future.

Jon Rowe (Businessman & Church Leader – Dudley)

NEXT TIME…SO WHAT ABOUT NOW?

So, we’re almost back to the present day now, and next time we will let you know exactly where present investment is focused, and how much this represents.

We’ll then start to set the scene for where we want to head. Some specific needs, and the way in which we want to develop our vision into the future with ‘real numbers’, ie, how much do we need to raise PER MONTH to realise our corporate ambitions, inspired we believe by The Lord.

You’ll then have a much better idea of where things stand, and how and IF you can get involved and help us seed a different future.

We’re not asking for a fortune, but together we’re believing we can dramatically change the fortunes of the Black Country.

Psalm 126 reads;
“When The Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like men who dreamed”.

Well, whether men or women, we have a HUGE corporate dream to transform our region, and it can only be a corporate dream in all reality. Are you IN??

Will you help us in this? Will you help ‘us’ release the dream, to restore the fortunes, and to be ‘The Body’ that so many of these testimonies above inspire us to be?

Until next time Body Beautiful!!

Tim Fellows.
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.

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