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.