Understanding The Housing Scheme Mentality

Understanding The Housing Scheme Mentality

There is lots of talk around at the moment about ‘cultural defeaters’ (a la Keller) and ‘common grace bridges’ when it comes to talk about the ‘Post-Christian‘ West. I recently spent the day with some Crowded House’ Leaders in Sheffield and we were reflecting on what these terms mean in the context of a housing scheme/estate/project (delete as applicable). Personally, I think we need to be more careful about what we mean by using the term, ‘Post Christian’ because we certainly wouldn’t want to confuse it with ‘spiritually disinterested’, and we certainly wouldn’t want to stick that tag on those who live in our many schemes around the nation. 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. The difference, whilst slight grammatically, has profound implications for how we ‘do’ church and evangelism in this context. 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.

4. They will read if it is interesting.

5. They will listen to your life story.

6. They are generally scared of church, often regarded as an ‘outsider, middle class or do-gooder’ club.

7. They are less hung up about church practice than Christians.They expect certain things in a church: hymns, prayers, preaching.

8. They like plain speaking. Often, they see the world in black and white.

9. They have huge cultural pressures. So, it is harder to be seen at a church in your scheme than go to one outside it.

These are just a few pointers, so we must be careful not to tar housing schemes with the same cultural philosophy as the better educated classes. People here are not opposed to spiritual things and will be as open as you like with questions of faith. Because the middle class are the ones often in control of the media and publishing books about the world as they view it, these insights are often missed. The fields are white unto harvest in the housing schemes of our nation. The labourers really are few and we need prayer and support as we work to reaching housing schemes for Jesus over the coming years.