I have been thinking a lot lately about evangelical ministry in a (generally) lower-income area of Cape Town known as the Cape Flats and the Townships surrounding it. This a vast area in our city, and there is little gospel depth here. Whilst the middle-class areas closer to the mountains have a surfeit of good gospel work – we very often have few ideas of how to minister in the “cape flats area”. The gospel strategies that are so effective in educated, middle-class communities largely fail to connect with poorer, less educated contexts but us evangelicals plod on as if there is no real contextual difference. How then do we do real gospel ministry in a significantly different context just a few kilometres down the road?
I found some helpful insights (of course not all of these are true for our contexts nor to the same degree or expression) from a strange source:
“One of my points this weekend was, in my opinion, that for much of the middle class of ‘Post Christian Europe’ the church is irrelevant largely because God is irrelevant. However, that’s not generally true for people in schemes: For them God is irrelevant because the Church is irrelevant”
Here are some pointers concerning people who live on schemes:
1. They, largely, believe in a God of some sort. But they don’t see what good church is outside of marriages, funerals and baptisms. There aren’t too many atheists on housing schemes!
2. They are extremely ‘supernaturalistic’ in their outlook on life. A massive proportion of women, particularly, have a real interest in mediums, spiritists, tarot card etc. It is seen to work therefore it is seen to be ‘good’.
3. They commune but not generally in homes (birthdays, wakes etc). In pubs, clubs, street corners, centres.
4. They prefer events that are participatory rather than merely sitting back and being entertained.
5. They will read if it is interesting.
6. They will listen to your life story.
7. They are less hung up about church practice than Christians.They expect certain things in a church: hymns, prayers, preaching.”