Jonathan Fletcher is quoted in this month’s copy of The Briefing:
There is a craze at the moment for church planting at the risk of neglecting inner-city areas, urban priority areas (UPAs), country parishes, and so on.
…I think the answer is the preaching of the word – and I want to encourage our younger brethren to be prepared to go to villages and the UPAs
It is encouraging that Jonathan has said this as it adds weight to what Mike Ovey recently wrote to Oak Hill graduates. I wonder if there really is a desire amongst younger ministers to move into the inner city? It would be great of more young men made long term aims to minister in such parishes. I’ve a few observations of inner city ministry which I hope will help people decide on this:
- We need to deeply love Christ so that when we minister the Word of God people see Christ crucified for sin and not a middle class lifestyle.
- We need to preach the Word to people who don’t speak English as a first language and/or people who don’t make a habit of reading, blogging or listening to Radio 4.
- As we minister to people with really messed up lives we must love them and work hard not to be seen as a social worker or teacher might be seen because we’re doing our job.
- We need to be prepared to wait much longer than in middle class parishes for people in the community outside the church to begin to trust us as “their” minister.
- We need a greater capacity for disappointment as new Christians are generally less able to manage life and more readily let you down.
- We need to be willing to sacrifice walks in the countryside and to put up with concrete.
- We need to get used to feeling slightly different world when mixing again with middle class friends as they talk quite naturally about foreign holidays, private schools and nice restaurants.
- We must accept that our kids might not get a great school education (our kids do, as we have a great church school) but that they will learn lots of valuable lessons about what sin does to people and why the gospel matters.
- We must love people in the inner city because we love and obey Christ. If we go to the inner city as a strategy, under compulsion, duty, because there is no other parish available or out of respect for Jonathan Fletcher, Mike Ovey or any other respected leader we will most likely fail.
Each of these points probably deserves a blog…