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Growing churches in working-class and deprived areas
by Tim Chester
Publisher:IVP(Inter Varsity Press)
This is a jewel of a book that every urban minister should read. True, Tim Chester writes as if the only churches worth writing about are evangelical. But once you've risen above such ecclesial parochialism Chester's writing is 100% relevant for every Christian minister in every urban environment.
Chester takes six key themes - contextualisation, culture, key gospel themes, evangelism, discipleship and teaching the word in a non-book culture - and explores their relevance and application to working-class and deprived areas. The author's writing is crisp, his analysis clear: the church is essentially a middle-class institution that has a great deal still to learn about how to share the gospel amongst communities whose culture is so different from that which the church assumes is the norm.
As a minister in a growing church in an urban area north of Nottingham this book is causing me to engage in some deep reflection. To what extent do churches grow as a mirror image of the prevalent culture of the church leadership? Most of the growth at our church is amongst aspiring middle class incomers to the town, rather than amongst the indigenous working class community. Is this simply like being attracted to like? Chester writes insufficiently for me about the importance of indigenous church leadership and perhaps this is an area for further study.
A remarkable book that deserves to be much more widely read than by the narrow evangelical market alone for which it was clearly written.
Reviewer: David Ford (21/05/13)