So here we go – 10 good reasons to plant a church in the valleys…
1. The Call Of God: The best reason to do anything is because God has told you to. Obviously there’s a missional call on all Christians (Matthew 28v18-20) though we still need to work out the specifics of where our individual mission-fields actually are. The reason I’ve put this reason first is because if God hasn’t called you to the reach the Welsh valleys with the gospel, then you may as well ignore the rest of this post and go and have a cuppa. My concern, however, isn’t so much that God isn’t calling people, it’s that the message isn’t getting through!
2. The Scale Of Need: As highlighted in my recent post, there are massive needs in the valleys – social, emotional, physical, cultural and above all spiritual. The gospel and its implications is the only cure, but we just need a bunch of faith-filled missionaries who are willing to get out there and dish it out!
3. The Fields Are White: Not just cos it’s been snowing either! Jesus told His disciples “Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.” (John 4v35) It’s as true now as it ever was. Certainly the valleys are ripe for the gospel, with so many crying out for hope and mercy. Jesus also taught us to “pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.” (Luke 10v2) The question is are we willing to be the answer to our own prayers?
4. The Gospel Works: Like Paul said – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1V16) If that’s true, why not take it to a region that’s gagging for power like that?!
5. The Culture Is Rich And The Beauty Is Inspiring: Another reason to plant up here is simply to engage an amazingly rich culture. There is literally nowhere in the UK, probably the world that has quite the same cultural DNA as the valleys. If you’ve sampled it you know exactly what I mean. Furthermore, you’re never more than 5 minutes away from natural beauty in the valleys that refreshes your soul, changes your perspective and causes you to worship God.
6. The Doors Are Wide Open: There are so many gospel opportunities up here. Schools and service providers are desperate for active community involvement, kids are crying out for role models, buildings are two-a-penny and houses are just ridiculously cheap! Game on!!
7. Adventure Awaits: Deep inside we all crave adventure, and following Jesus was always meant to be epic! Like all good adventure stories church-planting has moments of excitement, challenge, adrenhaline, pain, laughter, fear, uncertainty and victory. The valleys are an amazing setting for that adventure to be lived out!
8. Community Spirit Prevails: I regularly cycle across the top of our local mountain to Blaenavon, then back down the valley along the cycle track. Literally every single person I ever pass says ‘hello’! There is a community spirit that still lives on in the Welsh valleys that has been eroded or eradicated almost everywhere else in the UK. Such openness is a huge doorway for the gospel to be presented relationally and authentically.
9. No One Else Is Doing It: OK, that’s an outrageous generalisation, and not strictly true. There are some cracking churches that have been planted in the valleys over recent years, such as Sovereign Grace Church, Merthyr. That said, however, there used to be attitude when I was growing up that the road out of the valleys was bigger than the one coming in. In other words, there was a steady exodus of young people going to university, or moving away for work, and never coming back. (Guilty as charged for 12 years!) The same can probably be said of young Christians. There seem to be more heading south and remaining in exile, than heading back north with missional intent. This trend must be stemmed and ultimately reversed if the gospel is to take root once again in the valleys!
10. A Statement Must Be Made: Firstly, to God – that we have faith in the transformational power of His gospel. Secondly, to satan and the powers of darkness – that their days are numbered and their grip on this region is loosening. Finally, to the people of the valleys – that they’re not forgotten or forsaken and that there is a living hope – His name is Jesus!