The urgent need

Over the past couple of years I’ve been working on a little E-Book about mission to our inner city and estate contexts. I’ve finally written the draft conclusion which you can read below. The full e-book “Hope for the city” will be available in pdf format on the publications page soon. In the meantime, you can read the chapters as blogposts by following this link.

Here’s the conclusion

At the beginning of this book, I described the need for a Gospel vision to reach our urban areas including inner city and council estate contexts.[1] I write primarily in and to a UK context but I believe that much of what I’ve said has relevance to other countries.  Around the world, cities and large urban areas are where we tend to find most people.

When thinking about urban outreach, it is important to distinguish this need from some initiatives to “reach the city.”  Even within urban and city contexts there is at times a narrow focus on those areas that benefit from levels of prosperity around student and graduate populations as well as city centres that have benefited from gentrification.  There is still a huge gap when it comes to mission focus on other parts of cities, especially those with poorer communities, working class contexts and multi-ethnic neighbourhoods with high levels of immigration.

I’ve argued that as we seek to reach our cities that the work of missiologists such as JH Bavinck, Hendrick Kramer and more recently Dan Strange might e helpful in pointing us towards a “subversive fulfilment” approach to reaching our cities.  Whilst there is much need, darkness and idolatry in our cities, we can also see the hopes and dreams that people have and point them to Christ as the one that reorientates their hopes towards God and offers true, lasting fulfilment.

This offers us a methodology for reaching estates and inner-city neighbourhoods where we are invited to Step In, Search out, Show Up and Show Off. We might describe this as an incarnational type approach to mission.  The primary need is for people willing to move into places where there are no or few believers and begin to share their lives and their faiths with their neighbours.  Conventional methods of church planting that depend on a large number of people moving from one church to start another are unlikely to work.  A pioneer approach with small numbers (even 2-4) of planters going into an area offers flexibility and the possibility of long-term fruit.

This type of mission will require long-term patience and the ability to build up relationships. It will need people with open eyes and ears able to recognise, understand and describe the cultures in which they find themselves whether that’s a white working class, south Asian Islamic, Caribbean or Punjabi Sikh context.

In the end, the great need is for workers in the Harvest field. If you have already responded to a call to this particular field then I hope you have found this book helpful in equipping you for the work. It may be that others have read more out of curiosity but could God be calling you to serve in the urban harvest field, sharing the good news with many needy people?

[1] Council Estate is the term used in English contexts to describe areas of social housing normally owned and rented out by local authorities or other agencies such as housing associations. Many of these estates were built either between and just after the First and Second World Wars. These are sometimes referred to as “Schemes” in Scotland and are the equivalent of US Projects.

My passionate concern is not for intellectual interest in our cities but to see people moved to serve Christ by partnering together for the Gospel in reaching the most unreached parts of this country.

Could you be involved in praying, giving, coming to partner in urban church planting? Have a look at the urban church planting page for more details.

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