Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Council Estate Christians 31: Three Elements of Council Estate Preaching

It seems to me that there are 3 really important elements in good council estate preaching:

1) Being Christ centred,
pointing people to Jesus in our sermons. I based this on the assumptions that
a) All the Bible points to Jesus,
b) That he is our Lord and we are supposed to be glorifying him.
c) This approach avoids just teaching good morals.

2) Explaining the Text,
Breaking down the text into bite sized chunks, reading out these chunks, explaining these chunks. I base this on the following assumption:
a) In general there has not been a lot of Bible teaching on council estates.
b) By focusing more on the text, than on my own personal speeches, I am allowing (for want of a better term) more opportunity for the Holy Spirit to work through the words that he has already breathed out thousands of years ago.

3) Preaching to heart issues,
Bryan Chapell talks about the FCF (Fallen Condition Focus), the idea is that each passage in the Bible speaks to some aspect of our fallen human nature. If we know people well, then we can show how a particular bible passage speaks to a common problem that we face in life.

It seems to me that this approach could be taken by both indigenous (born and raised on an estate), and non-indigenous (middle class cross cultural missionaries) and be succesful. For example, if a posh city banker came to our church to preach, I expect that at first some people might wonder, "What can he tell me?" but if he did the above, then I think we would see the following results:

1) Someone thinking, "Wow! This bloke knows me, he's talking my own personal struggles I go through each day, I wanna hear more ..."

2) Someone thinking, "So that's what that verse means, that's interesting....."

3) Someone thinking, "Wow! Jesus is amazing, I really wanna know Jesus more....."

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Council Estate Christians 30: The slum where my Mum grew up

My Mum grew up in the slum housing of Southam Street, North Kensington. It was eventually deemed unfit for humanity and demolished.
Fortunately a photographer Roger Mayne did an exhibition on the area, and so we can still see what it was like there today:
The photos are here.

Its interesting to see West Indians, English and Irish all together on the street in the 50's, especially bearing in mind the race riots there.

Its also interesting to see the Teddy boys, and people hanging out on the street - it seems history repeats itself. Its interesting that the photographer was afraid of this bunch of youths, just like many people today are.

Unfortunately there aren't any photos of inside the houses. When I was a kid, my mum used to draw pictures for me, explaining what life was like - very interesting, clearly poverty means different things today to back then.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Don Carson's "For the love of God" now free online

This great devotional that goes with the Mcheyne reading plan is now free online!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Council Estate Christians 29: What does the term "Christian" mean?

Today I was reading Acts 11, and was interested by the story there about how the word "Christian" came about.
Jewish Christians had to leave Jerusalem cos they were getting persectuted. As they went their way, some of them shared the gospel with other Jews only (Acts 11:19). There was nothing strange about this, these were Jews (who saw Jesus as the fulfillment of Judaism) reaching out to other Jews. People who believed in Jesus in those days were Jews.

=> Its a bit like how today, certainly amongst the white community, people who believe in Jesus are very often middle class. These people mainly reach out to other middle class people.

But back in Acts 11, there were some of them who starting sharing the gospel with non-Jews (11:21). These non-Jews subsequently put their faith in Jesus Christ (11:21). But what do you now call these people? They're not Jews, they're nothing like Jews, but are they still Greeks? Their not like Greeks, cos they're no longer pagan, they now believe in Jesus.

=> we've had this problem ourselves when we've been on the street sharing the gospel with people, and someone looked us up and down and said, "You're not Christians!" It was cos the way we were dressed, and the way we spoke, I expect they were thinking, "You're not middle class!"

So back in Acts 11, what do you call these non-Jews who became disciples of Jesus? No-one had any vocabularly for them, no one had even a category for these people. So they came up with a new term, they called them "Christians" (Acts 11:26). This term Christian was new vocabularly to describe people who could be either Jews or non-Jews, but who followed Jesus.

The problem we have today is that the word "Christian" doesn't communicate a "disciple of Christ." Instead "Christian" communicates a whole bunch of other things, including - middle class. This is especially so in the white community, but although less noticeable, its also visable in the black community. Many pentecostals are aspiring middle class. For some, when you become a "Christian" you are supposed to give up using slang, and wearing street clothes. Some pastors even encourage the congregation to get jobs in finance.

It seems to me then that we need a new category. We need a new "Christian" category, Not one that makes people think, "middle class." But one that makes people think,
"This person has put their faith in Jesus Christ. They could be from any social background around, the key thing that distinguishes them is Jesus Christ."

1) I'm not talking about just inventing a new word (although that might be a good idea).

2) I'm talking about it being modelled: Christians from the lower classes who havn't taken up middle class culture.

3) Christians who communicate justification by faith in their evangelism and lifestyle.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Council Estate Christians 28: Does it matter where you come from?

David Cameron thinks that where you’ve come from doesn’t matter.

But that’s not true for us. Its important to have preachers who have come from the same backgrounds as the people they are trying to reach. A common attitude to preachers is,
“You don’t know me, you don’t know where I’ve come from, what I’ve done.”
It is therefore really helpful to have a preacher who does know, who has experienced the same things, and who has gone through those things with Jesus Christ, and can then testify how Jesus saved him.

So we need more council estate men raised up as preachers.

Does this mean that middle class guys can't come and preach on estates? I don't think so, but it has to be done very carefully, and I'll write about this more later.