A church in a middle class neighbourhood is planning a church plant. There are two options. To plant in another middle class area or in a hard inner city area. The two areas border each other. The church wants to take the gospel to the people of both areas. Where should it plant?
Assuming that there are suitable facilities and meeting places in both areas, some might say, plant in the wealthier area. People there can resource the work, there will be an abundance of educated, profesional people to run various ministries and from a position of strength the church can reach out to the neighbouring harder area.
This strategy will not work. Between every middle class and inner city area there is a fully functioning semi-permeable membrane and osmosis works in only one direction. Educated, middle class Christians of all maturities will cross the culture gap and join a church in an inner city area, presuming there is no other church in their neighbourhood, but reverse osmosis rarely or never occurs for all sort of complex social reasons.
If we are serious about reaching inner cities, we have to go there. Not just to meet as a church but to live. We have noticed this process at work at St Luke’s. Mobile and educated people, both mature and young in their faith, have been willing to drive to church from where they live and some have even thought about living in Blakenhall. If we met in the next door middle class area, the process would not work in reverse and the church would inevitably become a comfortable middle class gathering.