Here’s two quotes, the first from Total Church and the second from Jonathan Fletcher’s recent Reform paper (it arrived in the post yesterday) Back To The Future. Reforming The Church of England – Learning From The Past, both highlighting the same problem…evangelical ministers are scared of the inner city.
First, Chester and Timmis:
A church in a prosperous town with 27,000 inhabitants received over 60 applications for the post of assistant pastor. At the same time a church in the north of England with an established evangelical ministry serving a city of several hundred thousand people could not get one application for the post of assistant pastor. People sometimes claim it is a question of calling. They do not dispute the validity of ministry to the poor, but feel their calling is to the rich. That is not Luke’s pitch to Theophilus. And it does not explain why God apparently calls far more people to prosperous areas than he does to the poorer areas of the nation! In reality the only call in the Bible is the call to the way of the cross, the way of service, sacrificial love and suffering. (Total Church, p80)
And Jonathan Fletcher:
By the same token, it is rather sad that evangelicals have got a bad reputation of not going to Urban Priority Areas, such that when St Nicholas’ Tooting was advertised as an evangelical church only two people applied for it. We will not win the country unless we can stick with those sorts of places. The model that Holy Trinity Brompton in London has given us of planting in existing parish churches that are about to close and giving them new life is remarkable. We must not lose those opportunities.
If enough leaders say this, perhaps an increased number of ministers will get a heart for the inner city. On the other hand, as Paul writes, how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? (Romans 10:14).
The figures quoted above, in light of the gospel, should bring tears to our hearts, if not our eyes, and move us en masse to the inner city.