Unreached? Growing Churches in Working Class and Deprived Areas
'When I became a Christian, I didn't have many Christian men to look up to. There were few who could show me what a council-estate Christian looked like.' Duncan Forbes Think of the thriving evangelical churches in your area,...
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'When I became a Christian, I didn't have many Christian men to look up to. There were few who could show me what a council-estate Christian looked like.'
Think of the thriving evangelical churches in your area, and the chances are that they will be in the nice areas of town and their leaders will be middle class.
Unreached is about reaching deprived, urban, working-class areas, often estates or housing schemes. It offers us the combined experience of the Reaching the Unreached working group www.reachingtheunreached.org.uk, an informal network of Christian leaders from different parts of the UK.
This book doesn't claim to offer the final word, but it presents us with a vision of what can be done. We pray that it will start a vital process in all our hearts and minds.
Think of the thriving evangelical churches in your area, and the chances are they will be in the "nice" areas of town and their leaders will be middle class. I once attended a lecture at which the speaker showed a map of my city, Sheffield. The council wards were colored different shades, according to a series of social indicators: educational achievement, household income, benefit recipients, social housing, criminal activity, and so on. Slide after slide showed that the east side of the city was the needy, socially deprived half, compared to the more prosperous west. Where are the churches? Counting all the various tribes of evangelicalism, the large churches are on the west side. The working-class and deprived areas of our cities are not being reached with the gospel. There are many exciting exceptions, but the pattern is clear. According to Mez McConnell from Niddrie Community Church in Edinburgh, of the fifty worst housing schemes in Scotland, half have no church, and most of the others only have a dying church. Very few have an evangelical witness. This book is about reaching those unreached areas. The Industrial Revolution saw increased social stratification. It was during this time that middle-class and working-class identities began to emerge. And in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, evangelicalism appealed disproportionately to skilled artisans, according to historian David Bebbington. So why have we evangelicals been so ineffectual at reaching the urban poor, despite our origins?
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Dr Tim Chester is the pastor of Grace Church in Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire, UK, and is a faculty member at The Acts 29 Oak Hill Academy. He is part of the Crowded House, a church planting initiative in Sheffield, UK, and is founder and co-director of the Porterbrook Seminary, a college-level theological training and ministry institute. He was previously Research and Policy Director for Tearfund and tutor in missiology at Cliff College.
Tim is the author of over thirty books of theology and history, ranging from the popular to the specialised, including Mission and the Coming of God: Eschatology, the Trinity and Mission in the Theology of Jurgen Moltmann (Paternoster); The Message of Prayer (Inter-Varsity Press); From Creation to New Creation (Paternoster); Good News to the Poor (Inter-Varsity Press); Delighting in the Trinity (Monarch); The Busy Christians Guide to Busyness (Inter-Varsity Press); and You can change: God's transforming power for our sinful behaviour and negative emotions (Inter-Varsity Press).
Tim is co-author of The Gospel-Centered Church (The Good Book Co), The World We All Want (Authentic) and Total Church (Inter-Varsity Press) and series editor of The Good Book Guides.
Tim is married to Helen, and they have two daughters.