At Gospel Yorkshire we want to help churches plant churches right across Yorkshire. But how does that work? How do we go about identifying areas of need? How do we find the leaders necessary to lead church plants? How do we involve local churches? Over the next few days our Assistant Director, Daniel Grimwade, takes us through the Gospel Yorkshire Pathway, our guide to how we work to help churches plant churches in Yorkshire.
When Jesus saw the crowds, we are told “he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd”. In response Jesus said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matt 9:36-37). We need to see Yorkshire in the same way that Jesus does, and then heed his instruction to pray for more workers. As we pray we will find our own hearts filled with the compassion of Jesus, and we will become the answer to our prayers as he sends us out. But how does this become a practical reality, so that the outcome is that new churches are planted and more people across Yorkshire hear the good news?
Gospel Yorkshire is a partnership of Gospel churches and individuals working together to plant churches in our county. Our role is a to identify areas that need new churches, help existing churches to support church planting work in areas identified which are near to them, and promote the needs of Yorkshire to those who able to pray and give to the work. We have developed five steps of the “Gospel Yorkshire Pathway”, which seeks to layout our approach in way which we hope can be repeated many times, so that many local more local churches can be planted across Yorkshire.
- Identify needy places
In one sense, everywhere needs more gospel work, so we need some criteria to help us know where to prioritise. Yorkshire is such a diverse place, with large towns and cities, but also huge rural areas. Coming up with a simple criterion such as ‘40,000 people within an accessible catchment area with no gospel church’ does not work for the whole county. We are defining a gospel church as “a place where non-Christians can hear a clear presentation of the biblical gospel, and where Christians are being pastored towards spiritual maturity”.
Following the example of Paul in Acts, we need to prioritise those places of significant population where there is no gospel church, and we need to think carefully about how that works in different places. We have regional co-ordinators in each part of Yorkshire whose role is to be in constant discussion with local church leaders, encouraging prayer and thinking about “where next?” Some of the most unreached groups of people are within the estates and districts of our cities and towns. We must not overlook them just because there is a gospel work in another part of town.
Whilst we have a responsibility under God to pray and plan, we recognise this is God’s work and he may open doors for ministry and church planting in places and ways we had not initially thought of. Therefore, we must constantly be open to the leading of the Spirit and seeing what God may have already begun.
Check back on Thursday for Part 2, and Friday for Part 3.