A taste of Heaven…in Hemsby?!

It was great last week to be at the FIEC Leaders’ Conference in Hemsby.  It’s always a great time, but this year it was particularly exciting to be able to share with so many others our plans for planting Spen Valley Church.  People were universally encouraging, and eager to help where they can.

A great start to day three on Hemsby Beach
A great start to day three on Hemsby Beach

The theme of the Conference this year was ‘Engaging Evangelism’.  It was so helpful to think through the ways in which we can, and must, reach those around us with the Good News of the Lord Jesus.  From FIEC National Director John Stevens’ opening thoughts on the instructions Jesus gives His disciples for evangelism in Luke 10, right through to the outstanding final sermon from Mission Director Andy Paterson, there was much to stimulate and provoke.  So much of what was said at the Conference will have a direct impact on how we go about reaching the Spen Valley with the Gospel.  This was particularly true of the seminars run by Mez McConnell and the folks from 20 Schemes.  We want to make disciples right across the Spen Valley, and the sessions on discipleship, diversity, and women’s ministry were all outstandingly helpful.


I personally love being part of the FIEC. There’s a real momentum and togetherness, as the churches which make up the FIEC seek to work together to reach our nation with the Gospel.  It was thrilling to hear news of new churches being planted, of established churches growing, and of FIEC churches working together to do more than they can do individually.  This is particularly true of the Training Fund, which has helped to fund 87 people, including myself, through theological training or their first job in ministry.  I am so grateful for the opportunities that being part of the FIEC has given to me personally, as well as the church I serve.  Without this help, I would never have been in a position to come to plant a church in the Spen Valley next Summer.




That’s why we hope that Spen Valley Church will be affiliated to the FIEC as soon as possible.  We want to take advantage of the opportunities that being in fellowship with 500+ other independent churches, all seeking to reach our nation with the Gospel, brings.  But we also want to do our bit, and link arms with others as, together, we proclaim that Jesus is the Saviour our whole nation needs.

Another exciting part of the Conference was hearing so many people say that they want to support us in any way they can.  For some that might mean prayer support, for others it might mean supporting us financially, and for some it might even mean getting stuck in in the Spen Valley.  While I was in Hemsby, I received an email to say that the amazingly good folks at Hope Church have created a temporary bank account for us.  This means that you can now give financially to Spen Valley Church, and partner with us to see the Valley reached with the Gospel.  All the details are on the ‘How can I help?’ page.  Please do consider whether you can help in this way.

Ultimately, we want Spen Valley Church to become part of the story that defines the whole history of the universe.  The story that, as Andy Paterson reminded those of us in Hemsby last Thursday, is all about ‘God rescuing His people, through His Son, for His glory.’  We hope, in time, to join the FIEC because it exists to serve that purpose.  Could you join us as we seek to serve it too?

A Vision for the Valley


Dawn and I were in and around the Spen Valley on Saturday afternoon. As WP_20160719_12_21_53_ProI looked down on Cleckheaton I found myself wondering just how many people in all the houses I could see had ever heard the Good News of Jesus, never mind knew Him as their Saviour and Lord.

Statistics tell us that just 0.4% of people in Yorkshire are evangelical Christians.  If that’s true of the Spen Valley, there are only about 200 believers in the whole of the valley.  That also means that, as things stand,  around 49 800 people in the Spen Valley are headed for a Christ-less eternity.  We are desperate for that to change, and that’s why we’re planning to plant Spen Valley Church.  We want to see people in the valley encountering the risen Lord Jesus and putting their hope and trust in Him.

It was great, a couple of weeks ago, to be at the Gospel Yorkshire Conference in Dewsbury.  I was particularly struck by

      Hugo Chateris' description
of the church in Acts 2.42, as ‘a place where there is devotion to the Scriptures, to one another, to hospitality, to prayers and engaging with others.’  It is churches like this that will effectively reach people with the Good News of Jesus, and therefore, that’s the kind of church we long for Spen Valley Church to be.  A place where people can see the transformed life of Jesus’ people, as we live out the implications of the Gospel of grace, and a place where they can hear that Gospel for themselves.

Times, and Church buildings, have changed...the Gospel need has not
Times, and Church buildings, have changed…the Gospel need has not



SSo can you help us?  Firstly, by praying.  Praying to the Lord of the harvest to send workers to labour in this corner of His field, and to save His people in the Spen Valley.  We’ll be sending out a monthly prayer letter by email, starting in a couple of weeks. Drop me a line if you’d like to receive it.  And do encourage us by letting us know you’re praying for us.

Or could you help by giving?  We’re dependent on the Lord’s people to help us get going.  We need the resources to take the Gospel to those who haven’t heard it.  We’re in the final stages of setting up a  bank account.  Again, do let me know if you’d like the details.

Why wouldn’t you want to live here?!

Or could you join us?  The Spen Valley is a brilliant place.  We can’t wait to move in there and get to know people.  The opportunities for the Gospel are massive, the people are brilliant, the transport links can’t be bettered, and the community feeling is great.  ‘Ilkley living at Bradford prices’ is how one local recently described it to me.  What could be better?!  Why not spend some time praying through whether you could join us to see the Spen Valley transformed by the Gospel.  Why not book me up for a chat?  Or perhaps you know someone who’s thinking about moving, maybe to work in Leeds, or Bradford.  Why not point them in our direction?

Ultimately, the need of people in the Spen Valley is the same as people everywhere.  They, and we, need Jesus.  It’s our prayer that in coming years many might meet Him in Spen Valley Church.