Reaching the Unreached – session 2

Graham Miller from London City Mission led the second at Reaching the Unreached. He addressed the questions, “who are the unreached?” and “how can they be reached?”

Focusing on his knowledge of the population of London, Graham explained that 15% of university graduates living in London are professing Christians. However, only 3% of working class London is Christian and more than 1.5% of these are immigrant, so the largest unreached people group is not Asian or Muslim but the white working class. Church plants, however, have gravitated toward the middle class areas of London. Churches are effectively competing for loyalty according to their brand of worship or theology in areas which will sustain them. Few, if any, churches are crossing racial or class boundaries.

The question then is, how will the success of the university mission movement and professional class churches over-spill into other demographics and cultures in London or other UK cities and towns?

Graham suggested the need for British churches to learn from the cross cultural mission practices of those missionaries who, like him (and me) have served overseas.  Missionaries have sought to teach Christ and then stand back to allow indigenous believers to make new disciples and to grow and plant churches.

I would have liked Graham to speak about direction of flow of people between areas within cities. I wrote about this in a post in 2008, having observed it in Wolverhampton.  I noticed that church planters need to prioritise areas of urban deprivation because the flow of people between middle class areas and socially deprived areas is only ever one way. If the church is going to reach the unreached, missionary church planters must go and live in the poorer, diverse and socially deprived places. Churches should seek to serve the local area, as Christ-centred fellowships. They may attract or invite mature believers from outside the local community, who have extra resources to support and serve the church, but only to share in the ministry with local folk. Simon Smallwood has begun to put this model into practice and it is something which we are beginning to wake up to in West Bromwich. I’ll post my notes from Simon’s talk at RTU tomorrow.


About neilrobbie

I am a 6'6" formerly ginger Scot, in a cross cultural marriage to my lovely Londoner wife. We've lived in SE Asia and since 2005, I have served as an Anglican minister in Wolverhampton and West Bromwich.
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2 Responses to Reaching the Unreached – session 2

  1. kevingreally says:

    I think this problem will only be overcome if we create a culture in our churches and Bible colleges where..
    1. We pray and fast for God to burden our hearts for areas He wishes us to go to.

    2. We really begin to look at needs of people in different areas.

    3. We create a culture of sending rather than choosing.

    Having written them down I would probably put them in reverse order to implement them.

    They may seem very simplistic solutions but aren’t most thing when we do them God’s way.

    I have thought for a long time that Christian ministry has become a career path rather than a vocation. I think by removing the element of choice we would weed out much easier those not called by God.

  2. neilrobbie says:

    I think these are valid observations.

    3. There is a culture where pastors or clergy choose rather than being sent and this is probably related to a consumerist culture as well as the secular job market. I don’t think everyone enters ministry as a career to begin with, but from a conviction of God’s call and a discernment of gifting. I do think that consumer culture and career culture has a greater effects on the way everyone views church than we would like to admit. We are, in lots of ways, consumers who choose churches because we like the style of worship and the sort of people who go there. In many ways, the paid pastoral staff are seen, and see themselves, as running enterprises which cater to consumer needs and so the idea of career pastor becomes embedded in church culture. I would love to know how to overcome this unhealthy dynamic.

    2. The homogenous church growth principle (like reaches like) plays a big part in the way mission has been done in the UK. The belief is that Punjabis reach Punjabis, Africans reach Africans and professionals reach professionals is the dominant model at present. Reaching the Unreached is a movement which seeks to rightly understand and practice the biblical dynamics of mission and church growth in multi-cultural communities; like does reach like but church should not be homogenous or monocultural. Duncan Forbes spoke on this subject at the 2013 RTU conference (see Acts 1-11) and I have written loads about homogenous church growth on this blog. (see

    1. Amen! Let’s pray, fast and commit to mission to all nations and peoples.

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