Its a conference, its a gathering of leaders, gathered usually because of a Ministry wanting to start somewhere, set up by a ministry usually from ‘The South’ (its never ‘The South’ is it ? its always ‘The North’) and they send up someone to talk at this gathering. It often happened in Scotland at national conferences, the blokey from the south would be up to ‘speak to us’ for 3 days.

Conversation and chit chat ends. The lights dim, the person is introduced , sometimes even theyre are so famous down south that they get accoladed with ‘and they need no introduction’ (so we dont even know their name) – then the blokey gets to the floor.

Somewhere, there must be a speaking booklet which dictates that this person, this ministry has to connect with the audience. Somewhere lots of people have read it. Because so often the opening gambit within the first 5 minutes goes something like this. (and you can replace ‘The North’ with ‘Scotland’ or somewhere else)

And we in _________ ministries have now got such a heart for ‘The North’, we love ‘The North’ , we want to be in ‘The North’ , Gods gives us such a heart for ‘The North’ , in fact God’s given me such a heart from the North…

The problem is then that person tries to prove it. To regale a tale of how their heart for the North is in tune with Gods heart for the North. And so in the best tradition* of calling these things to dust as a concept, here are the best reasons people give for having a heart for the North. Realising that im not picking on them personally, but the ludicrous and patronising nature ‘having a heart for somewhere’ really feels like.

God’s given me a heart for ‘the North’ and i know this because:

  1. When i watched Billy Eliot at the cinema I cried.
  2. Or Brassed off
  3. Or The Full Monty.
  4. Or Kes.
  5. Once when i was on holiday in Scotland i drove through the North and had lunch at the Metro Centre (gee thanks, thanks for putting your money back into southern franchised businesses and not local trade, you didnt even have a spend your holiday money here either- you’re so kind) 
  6. I felt something when i stood next to the Angel of the North.
  7. When i was younger i spent three years at Durham University. (people with a real heart for the north go to Teesside uni)
  8. When my child was at Durham University, we used to go up and drop off her luggage, its a great place Durham.  (Durham is a micro island of southernness in the North, it almost couldnt be less northern if it tried)
  9. Newcastle United have always been my second team. I was there when Keegan nearly won the premier league (i was there as an Arsenal fan) But yes Newcastle and their Brown ale.
  10. My heart stirs with passion every time i travel through it to get to Edinburgh on the East coast line, but ha ha i wouldnt dare get off at Newcastle i might get beaten up. But im sure its not like that.
  11. I once put Durham down as 4th choice on my UCAS form, and so God really was stirring something in me back then. Too bad i went to Oxford, and forgot about this till last week and i was given this ministry opportunity.
  12. My car once broke down on the M25 and it was someone from Newcastle who helped me.
  13. My favourite Girls aloud girl was Cheryl, and i love her accent.( ok this one is stretching it but I’m waiting for it to be used at a ‘youth event’)
  14. My grandmothers cat was born in huddersfield.  

And there are countless others, some of these have actually been heard and said. Why do it at all?  Basically if you had a ‘heart’ for a place, youd live there and listen to the people and learn from them. Not just turn up as a ministry to convince us it needs saving and provide the answers. Or youd live there. Or be called to live there.

But can we stop this practice of having a heart for somewhere. why is there a need to proclaim such a feeling. Did Jesus have a heart for Galilee? and if he did did he say it..?

Imagine the day when the Missionaries to the south start saying that they have a heart for London because of Eastenders, or a word of prophecy from the top of the London eye, not sure it would go down well would it…

*not a tradition yet by the way.

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