Last week I heard of yet another church plant lined up for central Cardiff, and was also made aware of the very realistic prospect of yet another church closing its doors in the Rhondda valley! While I readily acknowledge that Cardiff is a big old place and needs the gospel as much as anyone, it just feels like once again the valleys are getting overlooked!
So why do the cities get all the attention?
High profile pastors such as Mark Driscoll and Tim Keller (both of whom I appreciate greatly!) teach that if the church is to truly reach the masses and impact culture, we need to focus our efforts on church-planting and effectively engaging the major cities. They argue that these cities as the ‘source’ of media, learning, creativity and culture, feed and influence the rest of the population who dwell ‘downstream.’
Win the city and you win the nation.
There’s certainly a lot of merit to this notion and there’s definitely a case to be made for the Apostle Paul adopting a similar city-centric church-planting strategy to that endorsed by Driscoll and Keller. But there’s also the ministry of Jesus to consider…
Far from a Jerusalem-focussed urban strategy, Jesus conducted most of His earthy ministry in back-water Galilee, spending most of His time with a small posse of disciples, rejecting the limelight on numerous occasions and generally staying under the radar as He spread the gospel to the lowest and the least.
An entirely different approach!
Currently I’m church-planting in the valleys, which some might consider to be ‘downstream’ from cultural epicentres such Cardiff. Last year a good friend even questioned my wisdom in choosing to plant up here at all, arguing that I could be far more effective and reach far more people by staying put in Cardiff. Now hear me right on this, I’m in no way having doubts about what we’re up to! I know for a fact that God’s told us to plant Hill City Church and that doing anything else, anywhere else, would be disobedient to the clear call of God on our lives.
But what should the church’s missional priority be in Wales right now?
Should we keep sending to the cities at the expense of the valleys (and the rural mid, west and north?) Are there enough churches in the cities (except arguably in the rough inner-city estates)? Does God care more about the massive populations in Cardiff, Newport and Swansea than the rest of the nation whose souls are also perishing?
Your thoughts are welcome!
For what it’s worth, however, I’m going to keep banging the valley drum!
Check back tomorrow for 10 Good Reasons To Plant In The Valleys…