Urban Harvest and the importance of social class

Here are the first quotes from Roy Joslin’s Urban Harvest to mark the thirtieth anniversary of its publication. The focus of these quotes is the importance of social class in thinking about mission.

The saving word of the gospel does not come to man in some kind of spiritual vacuum. It confronts him in his own particular circumstances and at a particular point in his earthly pilgrimage. The setting in which the gospel is addressed to a person’s need is something we must examine. The Apostle Paul’s adherence to this scriptural principle is something he spells out clearly (1 Corinthians 9: 19-23). To disregard this requirement because it is ‘not part of the gospel itself’ is to fly in the face of Scripture. (11)

D.M. Lloyd-Jones said ‘The impression has gained currency that to be a Christian, and more especially an evangelical, means that we are traditionalists, and advocates of the Status Quo. I believe that this largely accounts for our failure in this country to make contact with the so-called working classes. Christianity in this country has become a middle class movement; and I suggest that this is so because of this very thing’. (2)

Neither the Christian church nor the working classes start from a position of neutrality. The church is already identified with that social group that possesses ‘power, privilege and prestige’: the working classes are the major social group to whom generally, these things are denied. It is important for us to grasp just how firmly the contrast is there. (286)

Urban Harvest is available here from amazon.com and amazon.co.uk. In October IVP are publishing my latest book, Unreached: Growing Churches in Working-Class and Deprived Areas, was written with the Reaching the Unreached network.