Some years ago I was praying about the progress of Newfrontiers and the possibility of missionary activity into continental Europe. As I prayed I saw a map of the UK with a bow and arrow superimposed over the South East coast of the country pointing outward towards Europe and beyond.
At the time we were involved within the UK with churches exclusively in the South East corner, reaching only to London. Looking at the vision I realised that the bowstring had to be pulled back right across the map way beyond London to gain maximum impetus to shoot the arrows with strength.
For full impact into Europe and beyond we had to strengthen our base and multiply resources across the nation. We needed to plant churches across the UK in order to go on mission with sustained impact.
As I shared the vision not only did many begin to uproot and move north to plant churches, we also replaced our Southern based Downs Bible Week with a Bible Week at Stoneleigh in the heart of England, growing from just under 10,000 to nearly 30,000 each summer. The number of churches grew until currently about 300 Newfrontiers churches are established across the nation with more being planted.
Arrows are flying
In recent years in fulfilment of the vision we have seen more church planters thrust into Europe than ever before. People have uprooted and gone from our ranks to Madrid, Paris, Berlin, Porto, The Hague, Amsterdam, Montpellier, Lille, Lyon, Stockholm and towns and cities in Poland, Latvia, Finland, Norway, Estonia and Cyprus, and we regularly visit churches in Italy, Romania, Bulgaria and of course beyond Europe into Turkey and further afield.
As we approach the referendum my main concern is not essentially political, economic or social. Scare stories from either side about what will happen to the UK have not been my main preoccupation. The question I have been asking is what is more helpful for gospel advance in Europe and beyond? What will keep things as simple as possible for our people to move freely and take jobs in Europe in order to help plant churches?
Nero was running Europe in Paul’s day and social, political or economic implications were not really Paul’s preoccupation. What helped the gospel forward was his main concern. Even his imprisonment meant the furtherance of the gospel; people in Nero’s household got saved. Three weeks ago I spoke at the European Leaders Forum in Poland. About 750 leaders from 40 European nations were present, very grateful for UK involvement.
Along with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, I shall be voting to remain in the EU. My motivation is entirely based on what seems best for gospel advance. Ultimately that is what matters. God told us to plant churches across the UK with our ultimate goal to reach Europe and beyond. I want to keep my eye on the goal and be obedient to the vision.
In all honesty I must admit I am not sure what is best for Britain. Godly people honestly hold different perspectives, but that’s not ultimately my concern. What is best for the gospel and the advance of the Kingdom of God has eternal significance.