Last week the Bishop of Burnley challenged visitors to the New Wine festival about mission to the poor. His charge was that the church had forgotten the poor and that event the recent upturn in church planting was primarily in student and wealthy areas.
His comments have provoked conversation -though if my twitter feed is anything to judge by the greatest reaction to a Bishop often associated with the High Church end of the C of E speaking at a charismatic Anglican event, seems to be coming from independent evangelicals. Furthermore, much of the conversation seems to be with those already working in some of our hardest to reach estates and inner cities.
But, if you’re not already involved in urban mission to our estates and inner cities -and the Bishops words have got your attention, I want to encourage you not to leave it there but to pursue things further.
Early this summer I tried to put together a list of those people, churches and groups I know that are working in our urban priority areas often amongst the poor and the forgotten. Please have a look at the list and find out more about those people churches and stories.
One thing that should strike you is that whilst there are some common threads, there’s also a lot f diversity. Urban ministry is not homogenous and we are not looking for clones to come and replicate us. Stephen Kneale, working in Oldham, is very different to Duncan Forbes, planting on a London estate, who in turn is very different to me. So, if you’ve got a stereotype image in your head of the urban planter/pastor and think that the work of taking the Gospel to the vast majority of people who live in the UK is limited to one or two mavericks, then get that image out of your head and think again.
If we are going to reach the UK with the Gospel then we are going to need to reach our inner cities and our council estates. We are going to need to reach the working class and the “left behind.” We are going to have to reach people whose families have lived for generations in East London, South Bradford or the Black Country … And we are going to need to reach families that have arrived with barely a word of English in the last few weeks or months.
That might mean coming as a self-funded church planter
Choosing to move into this area with work
Praying for Gospel ministry and church plants
Giving financially to support Gospel work