Gospel Yorkshire. Planting Together in England’s Largest County

A brief report written for Affinity Magazine

80 people gathered at Dewsbury Evangelical Church in West Yorkshire on the 7th October for the Launch Conference of Gospel Yorkshire, entitled “Why Not Now?” Gospel Yorkshire is a church planting initiative in association with the Yorkshire Gospel Partnership. We are a new network of Gospel-believing people across the county who long to work together to see more Gospel churches in needy communities. At the conference were church leaders, ministry trainees, Bible College students, retired people and others in the workplace.  We had a truly excellent day, and the feedback from delegates has been very positive.

Neil Powell (City Church Birmingham and 2020birmingham) and Andy Paterson (Mission Director for the FIEC) came to open up God’s Word to us. Neil gave a masterful overview of Jonah, probing the motives of our hearts as we engage in (or avoid!) sharing the Gospel with the lost. Andy urged us to humble, Gospel-serving partnership from Acts 17, and pressed home the implications of Yorkshire’s needs, as he explored social data on the county with us. Their input brought much-needed realism, about ourselves as Gospel servants, our county, and the infinite power and possibilities of God’s grace.

As well as hearing God’s Word, we had extensive updates from different churches and ministries in the county (Acts 29, International Presbyterian Church, the new Church Planting Academy baes in Sheffield, and Anglican Mission in England). We also broke into regional groups for news, conversation and prayer. In those groups it was brilliant to explore serious planting plans in Leeds, Scarborough, East Hull and the Spen Valley, as well as to look at the needs of Central Doncaster.

Map-of-Yorkshire-Google-MapsAs we had hoped and prayed for, one of the best features of the day was the opportunity to talk together, either as already-established Gospel partners, or as new friends. Several came from outside Yorkshire, and are seriously looking at ministry opportunities here. The result of the day was that we went home encouraged to get to work, relying upon the Lord, and ambitious to partner in seeing churches established.

Gospel Yorkshire exists to help churches plant churches. We want to see Yorkshire alive with Gospel life in local churches, and are convinced that churches must own the work of planting. Equally, experienced church leaders and planters must work together with their churches to get them doing the real, hard work of planting. Gospel Yorkshire is a network of leaders and churches working together for these aims.

After such a successful conference it’s vital to remind ourselves that we’ve done almost nothing, yet. The challenges are enormous. And we are keen to hear from anyone who wants to pray for Yorkshire’s needs, get involved in planting, or offer us financial or any other support. Check our website, www.gospelyorkshire.org.uk.

 

Gospel Yorkshire, Then and Now

My friend Richard Myerscough at Pontefract sent me this snippet from John Newton.
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“I have lately been on a journey into Yorkshire…That is a flourishing country indeed, like Eden, the garden of the Lord, watered on every side by the streams of the Gospel. There the voice of the turtle is heard in all quarters, and multitudes rejoice in the light. I have a pretty large acquaintance there among various denominations, who, though they differ in some lesser things, are all agreed to exalt Jesus and his salvation. I do not mean that the truth is preached in every church and meeting through the county but in many, perhaps in more proportionately than in any other part of the land, and with greater effect both as to numbers, and as to the depth of the work in particular persons. It is very refreshing to go from place to place and find the same fruits of faith, love, joy and peace… ”  (Letter to Capt Clunie, 21st May, 1763)
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In Yorkshire we live in the light of this compelling testimony to God’s grace. Our calling is to work together to reach a desperately needy county with the Gospel of God. Today our situation is very different from that of Newton’s time. Yorkshire has a population of nearly 5 and a half million (that’s larger than Norway, New Zealand and Ireland). Yet of this population fewer than one in a hundred attends a church even just once a month, and fewer than one in two hundred are evangelical Christians, roughly the same as Japan or Bangladesh. If Yorkshire were a country it would be 36th from the bottom for percentage of evangelicals. There are only 35 countries in the world with a lower percentage of evangelicals.
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We need to pray, and we need to work, and to work together. For this reason, we’re launching Gospel Yorkshire next month. Interested in finding out more? We would love you to join us for our conference in Dewsbury on the 7th October. Full details are here. Please pray and work with us, for Jesus’ sake, and for Yorkshire’s. Thankyou.

Why we’re setting up Gospel Yorkshire

Today is Yorkshire Day. What better occasion to talk about Gospel Yorkshire?

Gospel Yorkshire is being officially launched this Autumn with our first conference. With Gospel Yorkshire meetings taking place around the county, church planting progress happening, and interest across the nation, we want to help you understand why we’ve got going, and what we want to do.

 

1.  We love Jesus, Yorkshire and local churches

Jesus is the greatest thing about Yorkshire. We believe that Jesus wants to fill Yorkshire with communities of people who are discovering His truth and His love. We want to see Yorkshire alive with Gospel life in local churches.

2. We exist to help churches plant churches

Churches must own the work of church planting. Equally, experienced church leaders and planters must work together with their churches to get them doing the real, hard work of planting. Gospel Yorkshire is a network of leaders and churches working together for these aims.

3. New churches must have the DNA of their communities

Gospel Yorkshire seeks to harvest the experience of local believers, who know their own places and their needs. We want to link Church planters with seasoned believers, who are rooted in Gospel-needy communities.

4. Yorkshire needs Gospel enthusiasts

Gospel Yorkshire is our network for talking up what a great place we can call home, and for encouraging others to work with us. We’re enthusiasts for our county. We love Jesus and Yorkshire, and want many others to share that love.

5. Yorkshire is needy

England’s largest county has church involvement stats which compare with those of Bangladesh or Japan. Yorkshire has had an amazing history of spiritual blessing, but those days are history. We exist to draw national attention to Yorkshire’s current needs.

6. Yorkshire is not cash-rich

Church planting without financial support from elsewhere is way beyond the reach of what many churches can achieve here. Gospel Yorkshire seeks to raise money in order to give grants where needed.

7. Gospel Yorkshire wants to encourage and work with other planting movements and networks

We will bring understanding of planting needs and opportunities to those who want to work here. At the moment, it looks like the first three plants we are seeking to progress will happen with three different national networks.

8. Our aim is not to plant any Gospel Yorkshire Churches

We will work to see many Gospel-loving Yorkshire churches make a start, but we won’t give them a Gospel Yorkshire branding. We want to see Gospel churches expressed in different evangelical denominations and networks.

9. We’ve set up with the goal of closing

As soon as Gospel Yorkshire is no loner needed, we will close down. That could mean that we’ll still be here many years down the line. Hopefully, you’ll forget about us, but our bold prayer is that many, many people will hear and receive the name of Jesus because of this ministry.

 

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