Mike Ovey, principal of Oak Hill College, wrote in a recent letter to college graduates:
I thank God for what I see being achieved in churches up and down the land, but feel it laid on my heart that, with honourable exceptions, we minister the Gospel to a socially-restricted fraction of our nation [professional suburban England].
Few would disagree with him. I happen, by God’s sovereign will and so not entirely my own initiative, to be serving in a largely non-professional, non-suburban part of England. St Luke’s church were I am curate is situated in a multi-cultural inner city area of Wolverhampton where over half the population is South Asian. There is a strong West Indian community. The white population comprises largely of the lower socio-economic groups. There is now also a large number of African and Polish expatriates, with smatterings of over 70 other ethnic groups. I love it here. I love the people I share gospel fellowship with and those whom I live beside and minister to.
So, I’m going to blog about my experience in the hope that what I say might inspire other ministers to leave the comfort and security of middle-class suburbia and get on with gospel work in different socio-ethnic locations.
As well as some of the observations I’ve made whilst I’ve been here and when living oversees in the Far East, I’ve got stuff to write about the homogeneous church growth principle (HCGP). The HCGP states that like reaches like with the gospel and this might be what underlies our mono-cultural mission shaped churches.
To keep this subject within the boundaries of my blog, transforming grace, I’ll say at the outset that I believe homogeneous churches in a multicultural society deny, by their very existence, that salvation is by grace alone. More on that to follow.