Posts Tagged ‘housing schemes’

Watch this short film on gang culture in Glasgow’s housing schemes. People ask me if we are exaggerating the problem in our country. See for yourself. What is the solution to these issues? The young man at the end of this film thinks it is about more social services but I think we should be planting gospel centred churches.

Find out more about what we can do for Scotland’s many housing schemes at www.20Schemes.com

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An article on the BBC website recently caught my eye.

“London’s New Housing Loses The “Dirty Word”

Apparently new homes being built in London are now being renamed, ‘neighbourhoods’ instead of ‘estates’ because the powers that be feel that the latter has a pejorative association. Indeed, according to the report, which you can read here, the word ‘estate’ is being airbrushed out of common use.

Professor Loretta Lees from King’s College London’s geography department says, “The word ‘estate’ has become synonymous with the term ‘ghetto’. “It’s become a dirty word. Back in the ’20s and ’30s it didn’t carry the same stigma.”

What is almost laughable about this whole thing is that those behind this social engineering think that the gentrification and re-marketing of poor areas is somehow going to relieve the underlying human, social and mental issues. As I’ve written before, gentrification is a good force as much as it is a destructive one in housing schemes. But, as we witness in Niddrie daily, new homes do not suddenly make new people. There is only one power capable of doing that at grassroots level. For real, lasting change to effect our communities people need a change of allegiance to King Jesus.

There is a great article here published on The Gospel Coalition website here. Missions, training and church planting, particularly, do not have to be the domain of large churches. We are one of the smallest churches in the city (60 members) and I would hazard a guess that we offer one of the largest training places in Scotland for our type of ministry (9 full time trainees/workers and 1 church planting family). It’s hard work and messy but it can be done! Matthew Spandler-Davison (the author) and I are in the process of forming a new mission – Urban Impact Missions – with the sole purpose of recruiting, training and sending our church planters and women’s gospel workers into the housing schemes of Scotland. We want to see a gospel movement started in these desperate and forgotten places. There will be more to follow on this once we establish in more detail our aims and objectives and register our charity on both sides of the Atlantic. Please pray for us as we seek God’s glory in dark places.

I sometimes meet with and speak to young men who say that they are interested in planting churches in housing schemes. One issue in particular seems to hinder them, especially if they’re from an educated, middle class background. It’s the problem of children. They are either worried about their current child/children or they are worried about what a future might look like raising a child in a housing scheme environment. I have been asked to do posts on this topic a number of times, so here is part 1 of a developing series.

Let me begin by affirming that following Jesus into housing schemes as a church planter truly can, at times, be a brutal business. Following Jesus at the best of times comes with all sorts of pressures and temptations. Surely that’s why Jesus told his disciples to ‘count the cost’ before following Him. If you want to plant in a housing scheme then you better take Him at His word. Consider the words of the Lord Jesus in Luke 9:56b-62:

And they went on to another village. 57 As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” 59 And He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” 60 But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.” 61 Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” 62 But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

I’m not going to exegete this text but suffice to say that one clear point of application is this: Jesus is more important than your family. He is certainly more important than your children. Deal with it. Or walk away. There will always be issues and worries and problems and questions concerning the Christian life. When considering moving into a scheme, these are manifold. But the bottom line will always be whether you are prepared to put your allegiance to Christ before all and above all, including those wonderful, fluffy, cute, sweet-smelling bundles of idolatrous joy that we call our offspring. These verses read well until they have to be put into practice. If you truly want to serve Jesus in a housing scheme then it will be hard – that’s not a ‘manly’ catchphrase, it is a heartbreaking reality.

Here’s a newsflash. Wait for it.

Church planting might actually cost us something. That something might even turn out to be everything. It might turn out to be every sacred cow we hold dear in our middle class, educationally driven, child centred, play it safe, let’s cover all the angles before we step out, Christian culture.

Really? You mean those biographies of long since, dead people who buried their children on the missions field after suffering all sorts of wasting diseases, might actually have some relevance for my coddled, sanitised Twenty First Century life? Are you suggesting that I may have to make difficult decisions today that may even be (in human, earthly terms) detrimental for my loved ones? Well, that sounds a bit over the top. That doesn’t even sound biblical, or even closely like my God who wants me and my family to be safe and sound. What would Joyce Meyer or the guy with the nice teeth on the God Channel say about that? God wants me to take decisions that make me and my family happy, doesn’t He?. God wouldn’t really want me to suffer for His namesake, would He? OK, maybe a bit of name calling and some strong debate with my atheist friends. But, to move my family to a tough scheme without thought to my young ones?  C’mon. God wouldn’t want me to do anything that is irresponsible, surely? We should, at least, consider some sort of risk assessment? You seriously mean to say that my children might suffer for the gospel? My wife might suffer for the gospel? I thought I might have to suffer but not like this. Actually, when I come to think about it, I’m not actually sure what I mean when I say that. I didn’t really think that ‘take my life and let it be, consecrated Lord to thee‘, was really all that serious. It sounds so much better with a bit of base and a nice drum beat.

When Miriam and I made a decision to move to Brasil in 2003 we had two young children under the age of 2. We knew it was going to be hot but we had no idea just how difficult it was going to be for us emotionally, physically and spiritually. Don’t get me wrong. We were ready for hardship and difficulty. We were ready to suffer for Jesus. We just weren’t ready to watch our children suffer for choices we had made.

Both of my children were ill almost as soon as we arrived. And not just a cold or a runny nose. It was often brutal vomiting and diarrhoea. In fact, on one occasion, my youngest lost half her body weight in the space of two days. I remember turning up to the hospital with her in my arms and they had to stick a drip in her heel because she was so dehydrated. We were shoved in a room with three other children. There was mould on the floor and blood up the walls and the whole place stank of defecation. It was horrific. We hardly spoke the lingo and I had no real clue how to communicate what was wrong. When they began treatment I couldn’t even be sure of what they were giving her. The whole thing was traumatic. I was burning with rage, fear, frustration and anger. Psalm 46:1-3 came to mind:

God is our refugeand strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

He didn’t feel like my help and strength. And I was frightened in that stinking, third-rate hospital watching my little baby suffer unimaginably while a child on the bed next to us was screeching in pain and bleeding all over the floor. Another time, we were at a BBQ with friends and suddenly my eldest daughter began screaming in absolute agony. She had stumbled onto a ‘fire ant’ nest and had begun playing with it because it looked a bit like a sandcastle. They were all over her, biting into almost every part of her body. I had to pick her up and throw her into a neighbours swimming pool. Again, it was horrendous as I watched her writhing in agony, completely helpless to ease her suffering. I remember thinking at the time, “What am I doing to my children? Have I put their lives in jeopardy for some romantic notion of missionary living?” I remember well the many people we knew back in the UK who had gossiped behind our backs about what we were doing to our children bringing them to such a place. What about their health, education? What about taking them away from their family? It was all coming back to haunt me.

I had read the missionary biographies and I felt that I was supposed to be feeling this deep peace about my sense of call. I was supposed to rest in the the fact of His providence. Well, I wasn’t feeling peace and I wasn’t feeling  a deep sense of call. I was just feeling a deep sense of pain and an overwhelming desire to return home with my tail between my legs. I felt like I was abusing my children out of a sense of some personal, spiritual duty. I felt exactly as the Psalmist did in Psalm 10:1: “O Lord, why do you stand so far away? Why do you hide when I need you the most?”

I feel like I want to quote some Bible verse that came to me in those dark days. But none really did. There was just a sense of putting one foot in front of the other and hoping that things would get better as long as I kept trusting the Lord. In our first year in Brasil, Miriam was ill, both my girls were seriously ill and I had a life threatening illness which resulted in my being unconscious for 3 days. We wanted to leave and never go back. We despised the place and its people. But we loved the Lord and we knew that even in the deepest pit of our emotions, He wanted us to be there. It was just a price we had to pay. It was part of the cost. I just didn’t realise that the cost meant everybody in my family and not just me.

We can read verses like Hebrews 4:15 glibly in our culture. We read it from the safety of our modern homes and comfortable lives.

For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses . .

In those dark days we remembered, somehow, that we were there because people were suffering just as we were (often worse) without Christ. Imagine that if you can? We were traumatised but we had hope and we had come to live among a people who had none. If our troubles did nothing else they gave us a profound empathy with people. They gave us a faint glimpse behind the curtain of Calvary when Christ cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me.” Even more profoundly, how deeply the Father must have suffered to watch his Son suffer in the pursuit of his heavenly mission. Hebrews 4:15 came alive then, let me tell you.

Then, in 2006 we moved to a housing scheme in Scotland. That brought with it a whole host of other issues related to our children. What about friends for them in a church with few or no children their own age? Wouldn’t it easier and fairer (on them) to pastor in a church with an established children’s and youth group? How about now that they’re older with no friends their own age in the church? What about schooling in an area of failing educational systems? What about role models for them? How about the fact that we can’t really let them play in the street with so many questionable (sex offenders) people about? We can’t let them go into certain houses we now associated with drugs and crime. Big questions I will address in further posts.

I read this prayer this morning in my devotional.

“Good God thank you that this life is not a random throw of the dice. but is watched over by your favour and fatherly care. That’s easy to confess when the wind is at my back and the sun is on my face; give me the same trust in your will when the circumstances of life turn tragic and are tear-stained. Let me understand that even then I am kept by you.”

Stay tuned.

When was the last time you met a person who took a decision in their life based on how it would affect their Christian community? As a pastor I am informed about decisions to move house, job etc and my immediate response is always, ‘What is the motivation behind your decision?’ For a clear majority of people it boils down to economics – more money or better prospects etc. The spiritual ramifications do not even warrant a thought for many Christians. How will it affect my local church if I move? What about my responsibilities in my local church? Who will take those on? Those are, sadly, ridiculous questions in the mind of many believers in our society.

What’s church got to do with it? This is about me and my family. There will probably be a decent church nearby, but if not we’ll find one somewhere. The implicit reasoning behind this is often, ‘God will sort out the “spiritual” stuff and I will take care of the rest.’

There is a great post here on Kevin DeYoung’s blog about a movement of church planting and growth in our inner cities. He is writing about church planting in cities. But my question to believers in the UK is this:

What if, instead of bettering career prospects, becoming more upwardly mobile and being near a better school for your children, you made a decision to move into one of the council estates or schemes in your area? What if you made the decision based on the need to see healthy, gospel centred churches in these areas? What if instead of moaning about “urban decay” we moved back in with our skill set and set about the work of “spiritual regeneration” in our schemes and estates?

I wonder what the spiritual landscape of our country would begin to look like then?

Ministry in any context is tough but ministry in housing schemes can be the cause of much burnout, stress and depression among pastors, planters and gospel workers. In Brasil we saw people come and go, attracted by the romance of working with street children, but soon demoralised by the reality they experienced. Ministry in housing schemes is not dissimilar. At times it can be a thankless task. People come and go with depressing regularity. Here are some things to remember:

1. Remember that God is faithful in the midst of difficulties. Some days are tough. Some weeks are tough. There is not a month that goes by when I don’t feel like giving up. This is a ministry of such highs and lows. People come to faith in Christ, you invest your times and life into  hem and then they turn their back on you. Or others just give up and go back to their old way of life. Still others start the fight with you but drop out along the way. These are the moments that we bring to mind the Lord and his great promises to be with us always.

2. Opposition always comes with the territory. Usually your biggest critics are going to be those inside the body of Christ. Either they misrepresent you (purposefully or otherwise) or they question your motives for every decision. If ministry is slow they will attack you. i fit is going well they will question you. The key is to try to pray for them in the midst of trials. It is difficult but if you can pray for the well being of your enemies and for God to give you a heart for them, then this can be a source of real (and strange) blessing.

3. Don’t be hasty in defending yourself. If that email comes with its list of complaints then don’t respond in anger. Give yourself some time to calm down, pray and come back with a measured response. It’s amazing what God will do in the heart of some of your biggest opponents if you bring them to him in prayer.

4. Take your breaks and holidays. This is an absolute must for those in our ministry. Young ministers, in particular, feel like they have more to prove, and so often find themselves working constantly. they tell themselves that somehow this is being more spiritual and pastoral but the reality is that they are quickly heading for burnout. Take time off regularly.

5. Find people outside the fellowship with whom you can share your burdens. It is important that you get mature advice from those outside of your immediate context. Find somebody who will be willing to challenge you, rebuke you, correct you and encourage you.

6. Make sure you prioritise the feeding of your own soul. Develop a daily spiritual discipline of prayer, reading of the Word and worship. We cannot give out to others if our own spiritual tank is on empty. Sooner or later this will cause us to crash and burnout.

I am sure there are others we can think of.

I often get asked how and why we have so many contacts and have so many unchurched people attending our services throughout the week. The answer is quite simple:

1. We pray for people. Are you really praying for people in your area, consistently, specifically an intelligently. when I first came to Niddrie I started an early morning prayer meeting on my own in order to pray for more contacts. I then prayed for the salvation of the contacts I made and then continued this process for the last 4 years. Now, even though I am not present at many of these prayer meetings, I have a team of people who meeting every morning to pray for our area (and beyond). We pray for: contacts, salvation, openness to the Spirit to surprise us with opportunities and for boldness with the gospel. above all other strategies and plans we must be praying.

2. We all love people but play to our strengths. That seems so obvious that it shouldn’t need stating. But do you find yourself drifting naturally toward a particular kind of person? I do. Therefore, we have to check ourselves. Is our evangelism and outreach skewed. Are we loving all? Are we attempting to reach all people on our scheme? That’s why we need to build a team of different kinds of people, united under the gospel, who will reach a broad base and love all. Instead of guilting ourselves over the people we cannot reach, we should be celebrating the diversity of a team approach to this ministry. I have a mix of single parents, young couples, middle class people, an international person, an indigenous person (soon to be plural) and myself and we are all reaching people the others cannot. A one man band on a scheme may have success if his personality and gifting allow him to but sooner or later he is going to peak and the church is going to stagnate. Building a team helps forward momentum and keeps thoughts fresh.

3. We speak their language. “The transcendent love of God is inescapably drawing you to Himself in an act of cosmic grace.” We reach our people by grounding gospel truths in everyday language. This is not the same as ‘dumbing down’ the gospel message. Nor is it ‘over contextualisation’. We communicate the truth in a way that is comprehensible to our listeners. If you are a cultural outsider to schemes then take some time to listen to how people talk, what are some the common phrases (apart from the usual litany of swear words), the stories they like to tell and the humour they employ (super important). Then bring the gospel ‘home’ in ways they can relate to. God’s Spirit will do the rest (or not).

We continue to preach the glorious gospel of Christ in all of its simplicity and fullness and we pray in faith that the Holy Spirit will draw God’s elect to the Heavenly Father for the glory and honour of both His name and His Word.

By Andy Constable

Last week we were at a conference for gospel centred churches who are working in housing scheme/housing estate ministry. The conference was focused on the book of Titus and the main speakers did a great job at expounding it for the context of estate ministries. One of the things that struck me at the conference was Titus 1:1: “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God’s elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness.” Duncan Forbes spoke on this passage and made a great point that we are to explain the truths (or the doctrines) of the Bible to new believers (in fact all believers) because they lead to godliness. One of the doctrines that we need to know well is the doctrine of the Trinity and its application to believers. Here are a few things that I’ve learned about this important doctrine for our lives.

Firstly, the Trinity challenges us to be gracious people. Before the world began there was no, ‘you and me’. There was no world, no stars, no galaxies, absolutely nothing. There was simply God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit in perfect harmony, unity and love. There was perfect serenity and peace. Ed Sanders calls this the ‘Happy Land’ of the Trinity. God was happy and satisfied and needed nothing else because He was and is completely sufficient in and of Himself. And then God spoke and He created this universe and, eventually, you and me. He didn’t need to, and didn’t have to, but He did because everything is an overspill of His great love. All creation is an act of grace. Our lives are an act of absolute mercy. The world and all its fullness is not something that we deserve to have but its something that God created because of His great love. This is the very core of His character.

This grace is further shown in the fact that He then sends the eternal Son to die on the cross to buy back a people that He had originally created for his glory. The cross shows what has always been at the center of God’s character – grace. Everything we have, including our salvation, is undeserved. He doesn’t need to save us. But He chose to save us because He is gracious. This challenges me deep down. We live in a culture that is inherently self-centered. We give us little as we can away and keep as much as we can for ourselves. We are to reflect a God who is constantly giving to us by giving to those around us in time, energy, and finance.

Secondly, the Trinity challenges our individualistic society. Father, Son and Holy Spirit live in perfect harmony with one another. They are one and three, three and one. God is a community. And then God created humans to reflect this community. The Trinity says to itself in Genesis 1:26: “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…” As one famous person said: “no man is an island.” We cannot live a full life without a network of relationships around us because we are wired to be in relationships. We are created with community in our DNA. In contrast, we live in a society that tries to push people away. We live highly privatised lives and try not to share too much with those around us. This has taken root in our churches. We see each other on a Sunday and a Wednesday and try to bypass people in between. And we wonder why nearly 1 in 4 people suffer with depression and isolation? In Acts 2:42 we see the model we are called to reflect as the Apostles met regularly with the people, preached, prayed and everyone shared everything with one another. The is something that challenges my way of life and the choices I make.

Thirdly, the Trinity challenges our selfish nature. The Godhead lives to serve one another and love one another. The Son is obedient to the Father and wants to bring Him glory. The Holy Spirit wants to point people towards Christ. They don’t live to serve themselves but each other. This is a challenge to a human race that looks after number one first. We sort ourselves out first and make sure we are all right but Father, Son and Holy Spirit are other centered. They are all co-eternal and co-equal. Think about this verse from the gospel of John (chapter 17) when Jesus prays to the Father: “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.” Now think about the conversations that we have everyday. We want respect. We want glory. We want adoration. We want to serve ourselves. But Jesus Christ came to earth and wanted to glorify His Father and carry out the work that He had been given before the world even began! God’s very nature challenges us to serve and to not look to our own interests first. God’s very nature challenges us to bring Him glory alone!

The Trinity is a complex subject but at the heart of understanding as much as we can, there are deep truths that we can use to apply to our lives. Let us continue to study God’s very nature not simply so that we can know God but so that we can reflect His character in our lives. He is a gracious God who calls us to be gracious people. He is a communal God who calls us to live in community. And He is a selfless God who challenges us to be selfless people. These doctrines can change churches and housing schemes and nations.

This is a conference for those working in inner city areas, council estates and housing schemes. Check out their website here. This is a preview of their conference this week where I will be speaking twice. Please pray for it and for the many faithful pastors, evangelists and gospel workers in the UK.

There are all sorts of models and debate about how, why and when we should plant and/or launch new churches. Some people prefer the small group/house church/community group model which is certainly a tried (not to mention biblical), proved and tested way of planting new congregations within certain cultural contexts. I, for one, am not convinced that this is a winning strategy in housing schemes. (This is not to say, incidentally, that these groups don’t have pastoral merit in our context).

On the other hand, there are those who prefer church ‘revitalisation’ as a more effective strategy, and I will write more on this in upcoming blogs. Craig Whitney has written an interesting little piece here on the concept of the “core” and the “launch team” as we think about these matters. He does raise some interesting points. I have outlined some basic considerations below for those thinking about this type of ministry.

1. Gathering a “full time” Team

I think that we need to have a group of around 10-15 committed Christians (obviously living in) in order to begin a new work on a scheme. Preferably,  at least 2 of these people ought to be full-time if we are to see any sort of traction in the community in the early days. We need key members of our team to be in full-time employment (for obvious reasons) but we need to have a full-time presence around the place if we are going to build any sort of momentum. Lots of ‘missional thinking’ works on the premise of seeking to build long-term relationships, but, on housing schemes at least, the ‘work‘ of establishing your ‘credentials’ is done very early on. Here, people will want to know who you are and what you are about straight off the bat. They won’t be as polite (or as individualistic) as middle class people and they will soon ask you what your ‘motives’ are. They want to know what you’re doing in their area, primarily, because people (particularly those who are skilled and educated) dream of moving out not in. If they establish the key leader(s) as ‘safe/cool/alright’ then they will accept the rest of the group, even those they don’t know so well. Being visible during the day and having a routine (paper shop, pub, local caff etc) will enable you to get traction more quickly.

2. Have a long-term Team Building Plan

Myself, a single mother, my wife, a youth worker and a pastoral assistant make up my core team. Within that group myself and the single mother are what I call “culturally indigenous” – we grew up on a council estate/housing scheme. The others are middle class ‘imports’. On my internship I have a Brasilian and a young, semi literate “culturally indigenous” convert from the scheme (he moved there 4 years ago). In my “pre-internship” I currently have an “indigenous – to Niddrie” single mum – about to be married and 2 “culturally indigenous men”. All are (or will be) meeting with, studying with, praying with people from around the scheme from all sorts of cultural backgrounds. This is healthy and it has taken time to develop. My team is purposefully “broad” as we seek to try to (1) reflect the cultural makeup of those around us and (2) build an effective model for training future leaders.

We must be thinking 5-10 years ahead when we’re working in schemes. Even if you are on your own now, you can turn this around by even seeking out one key person to invest into. People ask me how we attract our interns. Pray for one (or more), advertise for them, envision them. Show them how they can be part of a bigger vision for kingdom work in your area (and not just there to do your photocopying). Invite them along to help change the culture of your church and/or set the future direction of a new one. In my experience people are attracted to vision. More than that, they are attracted to those who they think have the credibility to pull it off. Once you attract one young leader, more will follow, momentum will build, vision will grow and you will begin to see movement. One of the dreams we have at Niddrie is to train and send interns out into difficult areas with men who are under resourced in order to encourage them and help them build this forward momentum.

3. We don’t have to be big to make an impact

Can I suggest that a church of 20-60 active and committed believers living gospel centred lives in a housing scheme is extremely healthy and can be a real catalyst for further, similar plants.

3. You Must Have a Full Time Women’s Worker

I think that whatever approach we take to planting in schemes, we must have a full-time female worker (not necessarily the planter’s wife). Without this, I think we have little or no chance of developing a wholistic ministry and breaking into to what is often a very matriarchal system (mums and grans rule in these here parts!). Often, they can be the key to the rest of the family. (My own preference for church planting would be to go mob handed: planter, women’s worker, youth and/or children’s worker as a minimum in a brand new work).

4. Don’t ‘Go it Alone” or ‘Panic Employ’

I have counselled people who are going into schemes once a week for a children’s club or a Bible study and they are discouraged by the lack of fruit and progress. Others, disillusioned the local church, have moved in to be a ‘presence’ in the community. But this type of ministry is not a sole venture. Likewise, I have spoken with elderly and/or dying churches in schemes who think that the key to solving their problems in these areas is to employ some ‘young person’ and throw them to the wolves. Usually, it is some wide-eyed middle class kid who is going to get eaten by anybody over the age of 8. Again, without a wider strategy and team support system in place, this is almost certainly a disaster. Worse than this, I know churches who have employed men in their late 50’s and early 60’s to turn their church around or to replant/revitalise. This is a disastrous policy if he is not able to get a young team around him quickly. Even now, in my late 30’s, I realise that my ministry future will increasingly lie more and more in training young men to do the job.

5. Where You Gather is Key

Now, I think this is perhaps more important than any other consideration (and not mentioned in the article). In housing schemes people regard religious gatherings – in what they view as non church like buildings – with great suspicion. Anything not considered a ‘church’ is considered cultish and extremely suspect. I cannot overstate this point enough. For example, in my first church which met in an old community hall, my dad was really uncomfortable and at one point questioned me as to whether it was even a ‘real’ church. Yet, in my second church, which met in a reclaimed Church of England building, he and my step mum went along (relatively) happily, enjoyed the service and felt very much relaxed. Both communities were evangelical and had pretty much the same worshipping style, and yet it was the building that allayed their fears and prejudice. There’s a lot of talk about the church being the people and not the building and I understand what this was (largely) a response to. But, do not undervalue the ‘where’ of a new church plant when working in the schemes.

Alongside this, reputation counts in schemes. In Niddrie, for instance, we meet in a brand new building that looks more like a community centre, which seems to go against everything I have written above. Yet, people on the scheme trust it (even if they don’t come to church) because of the 100 year history associated with the ‘mission’ in that place. Interestingly, a couple of church ‘plants’ have been and gone in Niddrie the last 5 years. Their meeting place each time? The local community centre. In my opinion one of the (many) reasons for their failure was that people here do not associate that place with ‘church’ and therefore did not take it seriously.

Some initial points to consider as we think more about ministry in housing schemes across the land.