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A goldmine for those seeking to reach the unreached estates in the UK
on 13 February 2013
I wish I had read "Unreached" before I began working on a church restoration project in a predominantly white, working class, area in South Bristol. It has taken me six years to learn many of the lessons spelt out in this excellent book. Both evangelistically and pastorally, this would have given insight into how to apply the gospel to people who for three generations have had almost nothing to with Jesus, his church or the Bible.
This book is a gold mine of useful information for anyone attempting to understand, and then grow, evangelical churches on working class and deprived estates. It is based on Tim Chester's sociological research and the hands-on experience of the Reaching the Unreached working group, which includes Chester and sixteen others. Chester includes their multiple voices, which gives a variety of perspectives, but without the book losing its one great mission imperative. As such, it is an important book because very little has been written on this topic since Roy Joslin's "Urban Harvest" in 1982 and because across the UK evangelicalism is so comparatively weak among the urban poor.
"Unreached" covers six major themes, one per chapter. The first two concern contextualisation and understanding working class culture. The third is on key gospel themes for working class and deprived areas. Personally I found this chapter refreshing. Who doesn't need daily reminding of the wonderful father-heart of God for his children, his sovereignty over all things including gut-wrenching disasters, and his amazing grace which brings peace and hope in the messiness of all our lives? The final three chapters give practical guidance as to how to do evangelism, discipleship, and teach the Bible in a non-book culture. The conclusion of the book was profoundly moving and it prompted me to pray for the contributors, many of whom have laboured long and hard without seeing much fruit, but all for the glory of Jesus.
Chester sees this book as a provocative conversation starter rather than the final word on growing churches among working class people. Hopefully this book will be more than that. Hopefully it will inspire many church leaders and Christians to reach the unreached estates across the UK where, for generations, people have gone to Hell unaware of the good news about Jesus.
This review was first published in February 2013's edition of Evangelicals Now