Ministry amongst Britain’s poorest
From an article by FIEC
Anthony & Elaine Fisher serve at Speke Baptist Church on a housing estate in Liverpool, while Ian & Rachel Williamson are reaching Middlesbrough as they serve at New Life Church. FIEC got them together to have a conversation about some of the unique pressures of ministry to hard places.
Here are some edited observations:
When we first moved to Speke, it took some getting used to because ministry is different. You realized that it's going to be years and years of walking with people and submerging yourself into their lives. You're not going to see quick changes. It's time and it's just loving them.
You can be discouraged when you hear other churches say we've got these people coming and this was happening and you just feel like, all we're doing is we're walking with them.
Certain problems are easier. For instance, domestic violence. It's a lot easier for somebody on a council estate to flee domestic violence whereas middle-class people are often trapped in it because of the risk.
However, there is an expectation of the church because we're confronted with so many issues like that and people don't have any filter. What are deemed profound issues in other churches, seem very day-to-day in our church. So when we're confronted with somebody in a domestic violence
situation or sexual abuse, we deal with it. We're used to dealing with it day to day but it never becomes okay. I know people who have been in our church that have been to other churches and expressed what is happening in their own lives, have a sense that you've got to mask it over and and not tell people.
So it's quite refreshing in one sense that if a middle-class person comes into our church, I think they feel they can release themselves and actually tell what's really gone in on the lives and had to suppress for years. Different people come to us and and say, "We haven't been able to share this. We been brought up in the church and we haven't being able to." Sharing it would freak people out in the churches they have been with.
A question about council council estate ministry is, "Who are we responsible for? Who are we trying to help?". You're getting people being referred to you, you've got people who you might call your church members and then they've got extended friends and families. You become aware of issues that they've got so you're you're trying to help them. That's one of the challenges we find - the breadth of the demands on our resources and time.
Responsibilities to the church members is where primary attention must be but the secondary one is obviously evangelism. Encourage them to evangelise, evangelise yourself and provide opportunities for evangelism. That's where we get referrals. We've set up ministries to help young
offenders, fatherless families and single mums. It is a community chaplaincy and every help we give is with the condition that the primary help was the gospel. We want them to come to church and get involved with us.
Austerity helps us as well due to shortage for social workers, probation workers. Local authorites (who know us and our values), refer young people to us but now we don't have enough time or resources to do the work that's required. It's frustrating to see churches struggling to find inroads into
communities yet we've got open doors but a lack of mature, godly workers - the harvest is plentiful but...
Evangelism that we're doing is really time consuming. In another setting, it might be, "Let's let's run an evangelism course for an hour and a half on Thursday night.". How we do evangelism is completely different - it's new and it's good and it's real, real life but that's where the challenge is. In some contexts, you'll do a session and the unbeliever will bring up a question like, "What about evolution and the Big Bang Theory?", and you'll say, read this or watch this and come back next week and we'll talk about it. Whereas we sit down with somebody and they'll say, "How can there be a God when my granddad abused me since I was six year old and then my mum commits suicide." You can't say go and watch this and come back next week. You're invested in the next couple of hours or days counseling someone through some horrendous ordeals.
This is ministry they I don't teach you in seminary.
Watch their 9 minute conversation:
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