One of the things that I think Christians across Britain are slowly beginning to realise is the desperate need to be reaching out to council estates and disadvantaged communities in the UK. In many/most parts of the UK, the church is demographically very middle class, and is doing very little to be accessible to or reach out to other groups.
On the back of this I was excited to read on Tim Chester's blog this morning of a conference in Barnsley aimed at "those already involved in ministry in the 'hard places' of our country". Many or even most churches in these contexts seem to me to be struggling so I think an initiative like this where we'll be able to share ideas, to realise that we're not the only ones plugging away, and to get teaching and be equipped to be more effective in reaching out with the gospel into these vast swathes of unreached communities in Britian can only be a good thing.
I hope that it might also cause some to consider whether reaching out to these groups might be something that they feel called to: cross-cultural mission definitely no longer means going to a far-flung corner of the globe.
Heading up one of the sessions is Steve Casey, from Speke Baptist Church. At New Word Alive I thought that it would be great to have opportunity to hear how they as a church seek to reach out with the transforming gospel of Christ. They seem to be having some success, and it'll be interesting to consider their strategy and to think about how some of their ideas can be translated into other similar communities across the UK.
Click here to find out more about the conference. Here are some details:
When? 10.30am-4.30pm, Saturday 22nd May 2010
Where? St Andrew's Kendray, Barnsley
Session 1: Acts 10 – ‘Two Conversions – the unthinkable reach of the gospel’ Steve Casey
Session 2: Why we need to preach God’s sovereignty Duncan Forbes
Session 3: Case studies, discussion and prayer
Session 4: Zechariah – ‘Persevere’ Simon Smallwood
Here's the blurb from their website:
Council estates, urban priority areas, low income households: the gospel can seem so weak in the areas where we’re ministering – are we doing something wrong? Is the word of God as powerful and effective here as in neighbouring areas where churches seem to be flourishing? Should we change our methods – or even our message?
Following last year’s first ‘Reaching the Unreached’ conference, this year’s programme is aimed at those already involved in ministry in the ‘hard places’ of our country. Through the day’s talks and case studies, our speakers will reaffirm the confidence we have in the gospel as the power of God for salvation, whilst thinking carefully about how we apply these truths in our particular ministry context. As well as encouraging one another and providing a forum for urban ministers to network, we also want to identify and think about the key issues we all face.
Let me know if you're thinking of going!