Here are a few jottings prompted by some twitter conversations. H/T @litabny and @windy_London and @Rhubarbtheslick. An attempt to capture some of the thoughts from the conversation in one place.
1. We need to be working hard at training and equipping people who can lead and teach in churches in our urban communities. This means that we’ve got to move beyond a situation where we train graduates to teach other students and graduates. This just becomes a vicious cycle and a self-fulfilling prophecy. I’ve written about the need for other approaches elsewhere.
2. Churches outside of the University areas tend to produce a high proportion of young people who move away to University at 18. This leaves a big hole. Bearwood Chapel had a significant gap of people aged 18-40 when we first arrived in 2010. There’s still a need here but we’ve been encouraged over the past few years by seeing some young people stay locally whilst studying or finding work. This has started to give a nucleus in that age group. We’ve also seen some return back after University.
3. We need to watch out and keep resisting the ghettoization of church life where you have large churches primarily made up of grads and professionals and other small churches with high dependency needs. A local church should be a place where members are dependent first on God and then interdependent with each other. I believe that intentionally creation Homogenous units based on class, age or ethnic background is wrong and whilst there may be evidence for fast growth through HUP means initially, the long -term affects are damaging and may well restrict gospel growth because such churches are ill-equipped to cross cultural and generational barriers later on.
4. Where there are churches that find themselves at the cross-roads of cultures and groups and where those churches find themselves reflecting the mix then I think it’s time to be thinking about how those churches can be more strategic in seeking to help plant and revitalise churches in other areas. These churches could well provide the stepping stones from the mini-Bible belts around our Universities.
5. We need to earn trust and build up relationships. This means we need to be thinking long term. Short term mission teams or pastors who pass through and serve their time will not provide the answer and may end up doing harm rather than good. This means that some of our missions organisations that have focused on putting teams into areas for short periods may need to re-think their strategy and approach.
These are “starter” thoughts. I would love to add to this. If you’ve got comments to add please get in touch via our contact form