Friday, June 23, 2017

Where have all the council estate Christians gone pt.6 'Christian' jobs

Following on from pt.5 
One day someone offers them a 'christian' job far away. It seems like a dream job, they get to serve God 'full time' and get paid for it! They move to the job's new location, which is often not on an estate.

I've gotta admit there's plenty of times I've seen ads for 'Christian' jobs that I've been tempted by. But here are my reservations about how common this pattern is:

1) It robs estates. 
Estates are constantly looted by outsiders. People these days use estates cheap housing (even by christians who don't attend the local estate church), business opportunities (under the guise of helping the community), and organisations poaching streetwise Christian workers. People see a lad with a story, they're amazed they got saved, and they think, 'Wow, we could really use this person in our ministry!' What they're not realising though is that this person's estate really need them. It takes so much hard work to church plant and disciple on estates, why would anyone want to poach off these places?
Of course, you might reply, well what if the lad wants to go? I'd say, well then it needs a careful decision, but lets not assume going to that job is the best thing. After all, there was once a bloke who wanted to go and follow Jesus everywhere, but Jesus told him to go back to his own people and tell them about Jesus (Mark 5:19-20).

2) It prevents people growing their own streetwise converts
If organisations can poach, they won't bother to plant or make disciples on estates. If we have more planting and discipling happening on estates, maybe we'll eventually reach a point where we have more spare people to send out, but right now we might be cannibalising estate ministry.

3) It's a false notion of full-time Christian Ministry.
When we go to work, whether we're paid by a believer or a non-believer, we're doing Christian ministry. Whatever our job, we're to do it for Jesus (Eph 6:5-8).

4) It leads to pt.7.....

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Where have all the council estate Christians gone? pt.5 Fleeing Temptation

Following on from my last post, Some have left their estates to avoid being in close proximity to temptations they succumb to.
I'm very sympathetic to this. At the same time, its worth considering that the Bible doesn't teach to move house when you get tempted. Instead God tells us to pray (Matt 26:41), and promises the Spirit's power to be a good witness (Acts 1:8), as well as a way out (1 Cor 10:13). Of course, in some cases it may be that the way out is to move! Let's just be careful to make wise decisions.

Friday, June 02, 2017

Where have all the Council Estate Christians gone? pt.4 Backsliding

Last time, I wrote about how house prices have caused some council estate Christians to move off estates. Today, I'm looking at the saddest reason we don't have as many council estate Christians and it looked like we would have, backsliding.

Its heart wrenching how many we used to roll with who no longer walk with Jesus. The pull of the old life is strong. Backsliding takes many forms, its not always the pull of an old lifestyle of sex, drugs, and raving, its also the pull of the middle class dream (as mentioned earlier).

Because of the high backsliding numbers, and the low number of cultural insiders ministering on estates, we badly need more discipleship. We need discipleship resources, and disciples who are willing to take the time to disciple others.

The contextualised resources we need should ideally map out the spiritual journey of a typical council estate believer, pre-empting the challenges that arise. This is what I've tried to do with the Urban Catechism (pts 1-4) and the Image Bearers discipleship course. But resources are only useful if you have the people ready to make the time to use them, and again, the middle class dream gets in the way of that.

more next time.....

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Where have all the council estate Christians gone? pt.3 House prices

I've asked the question here, and given my first answer here. My second answer is that many estate Christians in London have moved because its very hard to buy or rent a home on an estate in London.

Most of the youth I used to reach out to no longer live on our estate. Some have moved to more affordable areas, where they could rent/buy a home suitable for their growing family. Last year one of the blokes I grew up with moved to Ireland because he couldn't afford a home big enough for his family. Years ago, a couple in our church had a baby, and then found the only place they could afford was further out of London through a government new build home ownership scheme.

So our church can keep on making disciples, but we're going to have a challenge with keeping those disciples on the estate.

It would be great if there were more Christian philanthropists who help house Christians on estates to be salt and light. We might also need to get more creative with house sharing and budgeting etc.

pt.4 tomorrow ...