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I was recently talking to a friend of mine who’s had a dramatic breakthrough after a couple of years trying to lose weight. Being in need of shifting a few pounds myself – I was eager to find out what his ‘secret’ to success was? Did he have a ‘magic pill’ that could also help me?

His answer didn’t strike me as being of any importance at first. He explained how, for a few years, he’d held a membership to a local gym but hadn’t been attending. Then, one morning, after stepping off the scales for the ‘umpteenth week in a row’, it suddenly dawned on him! Whilst struggling to ‘count calories’ and ‘eat clean’, he was already in possession of the one thing that could really help him. He already had it in his in possession - like an essential tool for a particular job, a key for a certain lock. It was a treasure hidden in plain sight. There and then he understood - this ‘thing’ would only work if it was used! And that was the moment of breakthrough for him! No ‘magic pill’! In all honesty, I left a little disappointed, but it got me thinking.

It’s now nearly a year and a half since Waleswide published David Ollerton’s book, ‘A New Mission to Wales’. The book is a study of Wales: it’s people and contexts, and looks in particular at the way mission is being done by various churches. From comprehensive research, David helpfully suggests ways our mission should look for the future. The book was launched during the two Waleswide Conferences of 2016 and was followed-up with 12 regional gatherings dotted around the country, to discuss the book and our responses to it.

But I wonder, what’s become of the several hundreds of books that were given to everyone that attended the conference, or sold in the months afterwards? Have they been read? Have they been put to use? Are some of the conclusions and lessons from the book being acted on in our mission as local churches?

Or do we have a treasure hidden in plain sight? Is the book sitting on a shelf in our study unread? Maybe it’s been read, but we haven’t as yet met with the leadership of our church to see what response, if any, we should have to it?

Can I encourage you to read the book, or re-read if it was a while ago, and please discuss this worksheet with the leadership of your church: Worksheet.docx, Worksheet.pdf. This autumn, Waleswide will be arranging follow up gatherings across the country to hear good news stories, share how things have gone, and chat through how we can help one another in our ‘mission to Wales’ as churches in the future.

Just like the gym membership wasn’t a magic pill, the book doesn't pretend to be one either, but just like the gym membership it will take time, energy and perseverance. Unlike the gym membership, however, we have some help - a God who is faithful, all powerful and has promised to build His church. Whatever else we do, let’s not keep the glorious treasure of the gospel hidden from a world that needs it so much.

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