A few of us from church went to a conference recently which was thinking about ‘reaching the unreached’, those who live in situations where there seems to be very little gospel input, which is increasingly council estates and so on.
I was quite disturbed that through the conference, those we were talking about reaching were referred to as the “under class” as well as working class.
I didn’t feel that there was a great call for us to sacrifically give up our comfort to live amongst these people (as was briefly noted that we wouldn’t dream of doing ‘cross cultutral’ mission work as a one off so why should reaching these ares be different). But more of a conscience clearer for many in very comfortable positions. I came away feeling that there was no real love for these people, and no sense that they are no different to us! Instead it felt that people did indeed see them as an underclass, and actually a bit of an annoyance because they aren’t like us. This could be a bit harsh and most probably wasn’t what was intended at all.
There were notable to exceptions to this, for example Steve Casey, from Speke Evangelical in Liverpool spoke really humbly and honestly about life working in a council estate community.
Lack of academic qualifications doesn’t mean that people are stupid, nor does it mean that they need preaching and teaching ‘dumbed downed’, a point which was repeatedly made . . . why was there the assumption that people in urban areas are stupid?
It seemed that the organisation was done by those who have never had the contact with these communities that others have had, and are living on stereotypes! Surely, all of us have a role to play here. Can our large, majority white, middle class, affluent churches afford to lose people, to send them them to go and serve in these deprived areas?
Surely, we should be encouraging people to go and sacrifically live in these areas that have no access to the gospel, and doing what we can to support those working in these hard areas?
It really saddens me that in this country there’s still a lack of access to the gospel for people literally on our doorsteps