Take a look at @danobrien20’s Tweet: https://twitter.com/danobrien20/status/787217713936625664?s=09
Ok. So there are huge generalisations in making north and south divide statements. And there are pockets of poverty and wealth all over the country. But five regions that could easily be attributed to northern England are in the poorest in Europe.
I wonder whether it is worth reflecting on what this might mean, or might have an effect on the varieties of ministries in the church, whether para church organisations, mission, youth work and the rest.
Because if the local church is reflective of its local culture, even if church can feel like an oasis of middle classness in working class areas, this is all relative in particular areas. What it might mean is that that there are fewer richer churches in the northern areas to part fund ‘mission ‘ work, and that external funding from philanthropic trusts and grants might be more needed, or creative other ways of funding needed.
The same can be said of how effective franchise type ministries might be in the same areas. Committing to fund a ministry might not be as straight forward.
Aside from funding, what is clear is that the perspective of the world from the north of England (outside its ‘richer’ areas, ie Durham city or Harrogate for example) is vastly different, and it is used to be and becomes tired of being considered poor, or lacking or deprived or aspiration less. Given the recent conversations by the conservatives on grammar schools, their view of the north is that it still needs rescuing by a token grammar school.
Yes in some areas compared to the south the north might have fewer larger churches or the head offices of various faith charities are generally south, but that means that areas in the north are in more need of actual investment and resources to enable the building of faith with people from the ground up, given the fewer organisations.
Whether ministries are transferable across the whole country is up for discussion, but these variations might affect their sustainability and effectiveness. It also sheds light on the different cultural needs from an economic perspective and the need to recognise context in the performances of mission. All fairly obvious, but the northern areas might need to collaborate and shape mission, ministry and community for itself for its context rather than transport in from the south.
And yes I’m aware that money is not everything, and it would be patronising but also remiss to not mention the cultural, personal and character strengths, let alone spiritual strengths and awareness in the north, where it might be argued that wealth and opportunity has not (in a current political systems/ideology) manifested itself in the way out or in true freedom. Spirituality might be more rife in areas where material is lacking. Or where as Ricoeur argues, science and technology haven’t overtaken the sacred, to the same extent.
Oh and thinking further on those gifts of people…Especially in the north that is an incredible place to be, let’s build them, recognise them and not wait for southern based ministries to invade. The church needs a practical and prophetic revolution in the north, that starts in its actual communities in the north.
A north south divide in mission and ministry?