Over the years I have been privileged to meet many Christian workers from around the world. I am always glad to see individuals and families following the call that God puts on their hearts, whether to go and share the Gospel or remain where they are and share the Gospel. I am especially glad when I meet those God has called to spread the Gospel in the United Kingdom.
However, I am concerned that there is a trend towards not recognising the need in Britain and consequently churches not supporting workers to come here. I want to post a few reasons why I believe churches should be supporting Christian workers to come to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
I believe you should support Christian workers to the UK:
Because Christianity in the UK is in Decline
The national census in 2011 revealed that the professing Christian population in England and Wales had fallen by 4 million since 2001. The number of people describing themselves as having no religion rose from 15% to 25%. While it may seem hopeful that nearly 6 our of 10 people still align themselves with Christ, for a few reasons these numbers are meaningless.
In March of 2011 YouGov conducted a poll asking people “What is your religion?” In response 53.48% claimed to be Christian, 7.22% selected “Other” and 39% ticked “No Religion”. While 53.48% may sound encouraging it does not reveal the whole truth. The same poll followed up with the question “Are you religious” and only 29% of the same people said yes. So of the 61% of people in this poll that claimed a religion only 29% claimed to be religious. Less than half (48%) of the professing Christians believed Christ was the Son of God, a true historical figure who died and rose again.
A closer look at the 2011 census is available here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/10062745/Christianity-declining-50pc-faster-than-thought-as-one-in-10-under-25s-is-a-Muslim.html
One paragraph highlights that at the same time that Christianity has experienced rapid decline,
the number of Muslims in England and Wales surged by 75 per cent – boosted by almost 600,000 more foreign born followers of the Islamic faith.
These top level statistics are shocking. The more polls you look at and the more detailed the questions and subject groups the more discouraging the numbers get. I could go on with even more shocking statistics but I think you see the point.
Christianity is in shocking decline. And these statistics are only those professing Christ, they are rarely genuine believers. To many, claiming to be Christian is similar to filling out questions about ethnic origins, height, weight and eye colour. A tiny percentage truly know Christ as their personal Saviour.
Because God is Calling Workers Here
Churches should still support Christian workers to the UK because God is still calling them here. I fear some pastors make a negative judgment call on the men and women they meet who claim to be called to this field of ministry. In refusing to see or acknowledge the need they in essence are denying that God has called them to this country.
If you believe, as some do, that God is no longer at work in the UK, then please send me an application form to apply to pastor a church somewhere you believe God is still at work (apologies for the sarcasm, it’s an English thing…).
Because Help is Needed
Many ministries in the UK are plodding along. For years a small congregation with an aging minister, or with no minister, may have faithfully kept the Gospel light shining. But they grow weary, individuals are promoted to glory or perhaps some simply give up, and the light of the Gospel in their location flickers and dies. Some ministries may not need 100% support for an extended period, they may just need a short term boost. It may be a boost of finances, or of workers, but it is a minimal amount of help, but they need help none the less. The need is not always for a massive endeavour, but for short term encouragement and enablement.
Other times a ministry in decline simple needs the right man, family or team to rebuild, there is not always a need for a fresh church plant, only a helping hand. The need is not always for someone to take over, but for someone to come alongside.
Because Access is Relatively Easy
Despite the fears many had when new immigration laws were brought in, access to the UK is relatively easy. There is much red tape and some expense, but it is possible. To get into the UK you will face some inconvenience. Try getting into North Korea or many middle eastern countries and then you will understand what it means to try to get into a closed country.
Because the UK is a Door to the World
It is commonly reported that there individuals from virtually every country in the world are represented, to some degree, in the UK. For example, there are 729,000 Indian born residents and 700,000 Polish born residents.
There are many places you may not be able to go, or can only go to with great difficulty. But you can, with relative ease, come to work in the UK and from here see ambassadors for Christ go out to all the world.
I understand that churches cannot take on every missionary that approaches them for support. But please, do not refuse a missionary support to the UK because you do not believe there is a need.