Lots of people are buzzing about the dawning of a new decade. The year “2020” is being considered in many Christian circles as being extremely significant, including our own.
Love Dudley’s One Heart Sound youth network have had a ‘Pray, Reap, Keep’ strategy in place since Autumn 2018, building up to the start of the new decade and beyond. Love Walsall already have a 10-year plan up and running to see their borough transformed by the end of the next decade. Love Wolverhampton and Love Sandwell also have plans and strategies in place to utilise the unity within the church of the borough to reach the communities around them in 2020.
‘Together 2020’ is Love Black Country’s attempt to enable and facilitate the Black Country Church to start the new year and a new decade stood together as one. We’ll be gathering on Saturday 4th January 2020 to celebrate all of these strategies and activities and to imagine what more God could do through our togetherness to impact this area.
But we’re not the only ones with a hunch about the significance of the 2020 decade.
Perhaps the largest concerted effort the raise the missional temperature in the nation as a whole can be found in the emergence of ‘Advance 2020’.
“Advance 2020 is seeking to promote and stir up the gift of the evangelist within the church, building towards a huge year of outreach throughout the UK in 2020.”
The vision for Advance 2020 emerged when Andy Hawthorne (The Message Trust), felt lead to gather around himself twelve younger preaching evangelists to mentor, develop and sharpen them. Andy started to encourage other experienced evangelists to do the same, as well as encouraging those being mentored to eventually take on groups of their own. What emerged were the first ever ‘Advance Groups’ and using such a model, the Advance movement is growing every week. There are now over 70 Advance Groups up and running across the country with hundreds of Christians with evangelistic gifts and hearts being sharped and supported in how they share the gospel with others.
Advance groups also exist for young people too. Taking on the name “Amplify”, 60-100 young people aged 11-17 from across the country will be hand-picked and trained in a year-long interactive programme consisting of two residentials, local group mentoring and evangelism “masterclasses”. Amplify kicks off with its first residential on 13th September 2019 and we know of several young people from right here in the Black Country who have been selected for the programme.
In addition to its mentoring element, Advance 2020 has also widened to become a partnership made up of 27 different organisations from across the country who are all praying and planning together to explore what an “intentional, strategic and spirit-filled year of mission will look like across the UK in 2020”.
The whole thing kicks off with the Advance Summit at our very own Bethel Convention Centre in West Bromwich on Saturday 12th October, where they hope to gather 1500 evangelists from right across the country to equip and encourage them to “take the gospel to the nation on a unprecedented scale” in 2020. You can find tickets for the Advance Summit here. It’s open to anyone with a heart for evangelism and sharing the gospel of Jesus.
However, I think it would be fair to pause here and ask the obvious question:
Didn’t we hear all this in 1999?
Twenty years ago, the turn of the new millennium was also billed as hugely significant, with large missional responses planned throughout the country and huge financial resources invested into millennial missions and national outreaches.
Why is 2020 any different to anything we’ve done before?
I guess time will ultimately tell the answer to this question but if movement and impetus are a good measure of hope and expectation, then there is plenty of that building across the UK church as the decade draws to an end. In a country that is currently experiencing record levels of uncertainty about who we are and where we stand internationally, this could well be the perfect season into which the certainty of the love of Jesus and the solidity of His gospel can be spoken and heard by many.
If you have a heart for sharing the gospel with others, whether from a weekly platform or your desk in the office, connecting with an Advance Group might be just what you need to support you in your calling. Click here for all the information you need about getting involved.