May 24, 2013

The UK Church and the Poor: Why Have We Fallen So Far and What Can Be Done About It? (5)

This week we have been looking at the problem of the lack of churches and indigenous leadership training in council estates and housing schemes across the UK. This is the final part of a short series looking at some practical ways we can seek to redress some of the current issues involved with church revitalisation and planting in these needy areas.

Establish multicultural teams as quickly as possible. Given the ever-changing face of British society, it will be hard to find a common cultural core these days. Middle class people are often moving into areas of regeneration, the old working class are still bastions, an ever-increasing immigrant community, and the so-called underclass all make our areas an interesting hotchpotch of humanity. The benefit of a multicultural team approach is that we can use our varied gift sets and personalities within groups where others can’t. Whether we agree or not, like does attract like, and there is nothing stronger than a team made up of different people and personalities working together for the glory of the gospel.

We must be constant questioners. What are the strengths/weaknesses of the culture we are engaging with? What are our own? What biblical principles transcend both? Observe, don’t assume. There are many, what the theologians tag, “cultural defeaters” within the culture of housing schemes and council estates. What are they? Why are they there? How does the gospel specifically come to bear?

We must be careful that it is the gospel we are bringing to people and not the cultural values of the messenger. We are bringing the gospel, not the package we feel most comfortable having it wrapped in. When locals come to Jesus, they may not want to express praise and worship in the same way as an outsider. We have to guide people to biblical principles without forcing our own cultural understanding on them. So, for example, we may like to wear a shirt and tie to church, but it isn’t a biblical imperative. They need to respect your tie wearing, but you need to respect their track suit wearing. Spending their money on smoking, though unwise and unhealthy, is not a sin any more than spending £60 a week at Starbucks is for those who engage in that. We need to work hard at ensuring we give people the gospel, not law, and certainly not our cultural ideals. Sin must be challenged, of course, but we must trust the Holy Spirit of God to bring about real conviction, or we’ll be left with judgemental-ism and mutual distrust, a lack of love, understanding, and patience among us.

We must understand the cultural difficulties of coming to Christ in a scheme and build church as family, not services. It is often comparable to Muslim countries in terms of family responses. They will be accepted at first as quirky, but opposition will soon rise up against God, the church, the gospel, and the person saved, when people realise what it means to follow Christ. We must be very careful because lives can also be at risk from drug dealers, crime syndicates, and abusive partners looking for revenge. Our new believers need a new family, not just services to attend. They need to be able to hang out with us, question us, and pray with us regularly—daily—if they are going to survive the onslaught from Satan. Discipleship without deep friendship is merely club membership.

We must minister to the heart, because that crosses all cultural boundaries. Ultimately, sin is sin and God is God, across all divides. When we challenge the heart and God works by his Spirit, we will begin to see steady, fruitful, and biblically sustainable change.

We must all see ourselves as imperfect learners. We don’t have it right. A lot of the stuff written in these past five posts are just from my experience over the last 13 years. It doesn’t make it universally true. They are just hints, tips, and things I’ve found helpful and learned through trial and error. We need each other. We need Christ and the gospel to keep us united as we seek to live for the glory of God in some of the poorest places of our country.

Connect with Us

© 2019 20schemes Equip   ·  Submissions   ·   What We Believe   ·   Privacy Policy  ·  Site by Mere.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram