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by Steve Wilcox.
Hull 2030 is a new movement to pray for, facilitate and encourage the planting of 20 new gospel-centred churches in Hull by the year 2030. It has come about because of the massive need for new gospel-centred churches to reach those currently unreached, and therefore the need to work together wherever possible.
At the launch we heard about the great need in Hull. I was asked to speak about the need for the gospel in Hull, and took us to Matthew 9:35-38 and encouraged us to have the compassion of the Lord Jesus as we see the hundreds of thousands of harassed and helpless sheep without a shepherd around us. We thought about the extent of the need, being reminded that in 13 of the Anglican parishes within Hull, church attendance is between 1 and 8 people for every 1,000 head of population. Thankfully there is life beyond the Church of England but the task is still enormous. Positively, the Lord Jesus reminds us that he is the Lord of the harvest, and encourages us to ask him to send workers into the harvest field. We need to pray for workers; and then following the example of the apostles (Matthew 10:1-4) we need to be willing to be sent / to send others; and we need to work together. To give an indication of the size of the task, we were reminded that for 10% of the population of Hull to be in a gospel-centred church, we would need 128 churches of 200 people (we currently have 5!), or 256 churches of 100 people. If you include the areas surrounding the city boundary those figures are increased significantly.
Steve Whittington of Jubilee Central then spoke about the importance of church planting in the mission of God, before introducing John Walley, pastor of Christ Church Longbridge in Birmingham. John spoke powerfully about the impact of 2020 Birmingham on the city, and on his own church and ministry. He explained that 2020 has enabled different gospel-centred churches to work towards a common vision. There is an awareness that in a city of millions, there is plenty of room for lots of different gospel-preaching churches. 2020 has helped to facilitate the planting of 16 churches already, and is well on target for 20 to be planted by 2020. He explained that 2020 has worked in Birmingham for a number of reasons:
> It's operated as a banner. If it hadn't been for the 2020 banner, trained gospel workers might have left the city and not returned; 2020 has brought them back.
> It's helped to create a culture that planting is normal. Churches have said “we thought we couldn't afford to plant, but we've discovered that we can.” They've found that God has provided. He also explained that the vision of 2020 wasn't just that 20 churches would be planted, but that 20 churches with planting in their DNA would be planted, so that they themselves will go on to plant other churches.
> Leaders of gospel-centred churches have been willing to work together and to put the advance of the kingdom and the salvation of souls before everything else.
> It's enabled a co-ordinated approach to planting – so that church leaders talk together about which areas most need new churches, and which are relatively “over-churched” already.
The prospect of 20 gospel-centred churches being planted in Hull in the next 11 years is both daunting and exciting, so do please keep praying for God's work in this city. He has been working in recent years; we long for him to continue to work. Please pray for co-operation among gospel-centred churches; for workers to be raised up; for churches to be planted and ultimately for people to be saved.