|We can’t operate as islands – although as leaders we often may feel isolated. Networks are the life-blood, the energy, the learning, the connectedness which holds together an essence of organisational progress. ‘The Net’ is one such network, providing spiritual insight and challenge, together with like-minded leaders who share a common heart for Jesus to transform the area we call The Black Country … and from the Black Country … the World.
Steve Clay (Black Country YMCA)
When our founder, Wendy Fryatt, started Black Country Foodbank, she was able to use the roads that people in ‘The Net’ have spent many years building and developing through relationship. How do you start 19 distribution points with Church connections over the Black Country? It happens quickly and effectively through conversations where this is trust and acceptance. Even recently we needed to consolidate our work in Walsall. After one conversation with a Church leader in Walsall we had a contact that became our Walsall champion!
Another example was when the Brierley Hill Project was founded. Where do you go for an accountant, an architect, funding advice, volunteers, financial supporters, prayer support and much more??? You go to your contacts. However these can be limited, so to be able to be connected to a wider network where all these people and provision are is so liberating and releasing, and helps establish some great ecumenical projects. Together we are stronger.
John Cook (Black Country Foodbank / Brierley Hill Project)
(Judges Chpt. 1. ) ‘You help me possess my territory and I’ll help you possess yours’….was the message from one Israelite tribe said to another. The decades mission of The Net illustrates this approach, in seeking collectively, churches, social enterprises etc , in seeking the peace and prosperity of the Black Country. The Vine Trust Group’s mission has benefited from the Net’s role in mobilising the wider Body of Christ.
Kevin Davis (The Vine Trust)
I believe if we want to seriously advance God’s Kingdom we need intentionality and investment and in particular, nurture of the younger generation into leadership. During my time with The Net, I have witnessed churches and organisations coming together with shared vision and heart, and a passion to pray. We are undoubtedly stronger when we work together, and can fulfil the call to Disciple The Nations.
Rachael Orrell (Saltmine Trust)
“I have been immensely blessed both personally and professionally by the relational network that has been created and is sustained by amazing individuals working on behalf of Love Black Country. Within the work that I do with Hope into Action, I would have really struggled to know how to approach Pastors about getting involved with housing the homeless if it were not for the pre-existing relationships that have grown within this context. On a personal level I have had the opportunity of meeting some fantastic people, connecting with their hearts and learning so much about how we fit together within the body across the region. We are made to be relational beings but it is not always easy to find the kind of context for connecting relationally outside of our own churches and circles of friend that Love Black Country provides”.
Matthieu Lambert (Hope Into Action)
Last Christmas, we put an event for many of these Leaders or Christian Organisations
at The Copthorne Hotel near Merry Hill, and we had over 300 people gathering together to celebrate the varied excellence in the delivery of social care and provision to our 4 boroughs, and it was both a privilege and an eye-opener to see and proclaim the scale and the degree of impact so many of the Christian organisations are making.
They are a vital part of The Body of Christ, yet so often the hidden parts of this body that 1 Cor 12 talks about, so often without honour or recognition.
We calculated that with just the organisations in the room, and there are many more who would see themselves as part of ‘us’ but who for various reasons were not there on the night, if we take advantage of their desire to be part of the ‘us’ we keep referring to, then WE, as a collective Body…..;
-together employ over 700 people in and across the 4 boroughs
-have a volunteer base of well over 1000 people
-contribute over £25m to the local economy each year
We realise that there are people who only see ‘church’ as what happens on a Sunday morning, but we’re very thankful that we’ve been able with others to help broaden many of our mindsets over the years to realise that a lot happens in and for The Kingdom in the other 166 hours of the week!
We hope to develop this network over the coming years, and this is just one of the areas that we feel needs very specific and timely investment to do so, and to do so WELL.