I have really benefitted from hearing Duncan Forbes (The council estate Christian) teach at Reaching the Unreached and from listening to Mez McConnell’s testimony online. These two guys from the estate who are now reaching the estate are great examples of what happens when the grace of God in the death of Christ for sinners wakes up and transforms men in to ministers of the gospel.
If you are in a position to choose where to go to minister there is a danger that two things about Mez and Duncan’s ministries will put you off going to the inner city, UPA or council estate. First, you might think that you’ll never understand the culture, that you’ll never fit in. Second, you might think “like reaches like (the homogenous church growth principle), I am not from the estate therefore I won’t be able to reach the estate.” If that’s you, I would like to challenge those assumptions and help you to consider ministry across the great divide.
To the first of those points you must ask “why will I never fit in or learn about the culture? What is really stopping me considering this sort of ministry?” To the second I’d ask: Have you thought about cross cultural mission in any context? Why not this one?
You might also like to ask questions that I’ve asked elsewhere on this blog: Is your view of the inner city realistic or skewed by the media? Have you given thought to the direction that people will travel to church? The mobile classes will travel into a hard area but very rarely the other way round. Do you have preconditions to ministry, which, when you think about it you would not apply to other situations? Above all, do you have a big enough view of God and the power of the gospel to save which does not depend on my ability or wisdom or cultural background nor on yours?
On saying all that, I’ve also posted nine observations about inner city ministry which you might want to consider before you apply for a post.
I have been a curate in Wolverhampton in a socially mixed parish, though there were three distinct districts, and now I’m a vicar in West Bromwich where there is less of a mix. I have many friends in ministry in far more middle-class places and I don’t think it is any easier for them than it is for me. This is because sin is sin and wherever we minister we take our sin with us and class is no cure for the disease.