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This book is the product of over 20 years of thought and thousands of hours of research. This book is for any and every Christian who has an interest in the poor and the oppressed.
At heart, this is a book about how to love God better by loving the least, the last and the lost.
In The Least, the Last, and the Lost, Mez McConnell speaks into poverty, class and culture in the UK and calls the church to rethink what effective evangelism and discipleship looks like in the UK's most deprived communities. Based on rigorous statistical research and hard-earned experience, this book is an invaluable resource for anyone who seeks to understand the issues facing least, the last and the lost in our country and beyond.
“In The Least, The Last, and The Lost, McConnell shares his razor-sharp analysis of the struggles of those living in poverty and how it has impacted the development of the church in modern Britain. More than just theological, this book charts the history of the church in the UK today. More than just sociological, this book points to a hope that is transcendent. More than just recounting grievances, this book sets out a vision for the spiritual renewal for those living in hard places. I truly believe that were church leaders to take time considering the conclusions of this book, then the result will be many more healthy churches in our poorest communities.”
Dr. Matthew Spandler-Davison, Director of Acts 29; author of Church in Hard Places; Executive Director of 20schemes
“It is easy to say that we share the ambition of Paul to preach the gospel where Christ is not known. It is far harder to action that ambition when we discover that many of the places where Christ is not known are the poorest communities in the UK. The contributors to this insightful book share the conviction that our Lord Jesus reaches people in communities of all kinds (including those in the poorest areas) through healthy gospel churches. Prepare to be informed and educated; prepare to be reminded of the saving power and wisdom of Christ; prepare to be made to think differently; prepare to be challenged and rebuked; prepare to be driven to prayer and action. This is not a comfortable book to read, but it is a book that needs to be read. It reflects the heart of our Lord Jesus for those often neglected by others. Spurgeon once said, ‘The joy of Jesus is the joy of saving sinners.’ This book calls us to believe that His joy is saving people who live in every kind of community, including the poorest.”
Jonathan Prime, Associate National Director of FIEC (Local Ministries)
“Warning: this book may change you; it’s a powerful, thorough, much needed challenge to evangelical church in the UK. It’s easy to read but hard to swallow. With moving testimony and stark research, it helps highlight the disparity and challenges faced in reaching the least, the last and the lost in our society. The schemes, valleys and council estates of our nation need Jesus; they need healthy churches; and they need you to support those churches.”
Will Savory, Pastor of Soul Church, Neath
I would say that whilst this book will be most interesting for those in church leadership positions, it is a necessary read for every Christian who wants to understand how best to reach the poor. If we’re honest with ourselves, most of our churches are quite uniform. People enjoy similar jobs, family lives, backgrounds and culture. But is that what God intended for church to be like? Often I’ll hear church leaders speak about their desire to reach those who are not necessarily ‘like them’ or their church, but who often lack the knowledge and cultural savvy to reach beyond their own cultural context. How can church membership represent accurately the community it is in? How can it welcome the marginalised, those who speak differently, act differently and experience church very differently? This book addresses these questions and will help you rethink ministry. Mez draws together over 1,000 hours’ worth of research and over 21 years of ministry experience with the poor and/or marginalised in this great book. In addition to the book, there is a website that outlines all the key statistics and research that is the background of the book. It is fascinating to go through. There are a number of aims in this book but some of the things I think Mez gets spot on are; Proving a tool for churches to understand the landscape of the schemes on their doorsteps. Helping the reader understand the cultural and social make–up of a scheme community. Helping churches and Christians think through how to engage evangelistically in scheme communities. To get Christians thinking about how they can best reach, disciple, train and equip people from schemes to serve the Lord with the gifts and skills they have. Throughout the book you also hear voices of others through little ‘spotlight’ stories. These stories are relevant to the particular chapter and are written by different people, from different cultures, backgrounds and different social classes. The stories help you get a fuller picture of what scheme–life and scheme–ministry looks like. I can genuinely say this was the most challenging and insightful books that I’ve read in 2021. If you buy a copy it could very well be the best book you read in 2022. You will be challenged, you may even be offended at points, but most importantly you’ll be better equipped to know how to share the gospel with, disciple and train people from schemes.
The privilege and challenge of reaching non–Christians in the most deprived areas of the UK is the focus of this landmark book from Mez McConnell, the fruit of two decades of frontline work and deep–dive research. Mez, founder of 20Schemes and Pastor of Niddrie Community Church in Edinburgh leaves no stone unturned in his analysis of what it is to be working class in modern Britain and how churches can re–orient their vision to include the least, the last, and the lost. Judicious use is made of ‘spotlight’ authors who share their testimonies, their ministry experience, or who write on areas within their area of expertise. There are many books available on poverty and Christian work, but The Least, the Last, and the Lost carries much that sets it apart from its peers. Firstly, its theology is unabashedly conservative. Mez McConnell (and the contributors he enlists to share their perspectives) has a bedrock commitment to the cardinal doctrines of historical Reformed Christianity, and an unflinching commitment to preaching those truths comprehensively and comprehensibly in their context. This is something for which profound thanks should be offered to God. The vagaries and complexity of facing into the harsh reality of poverty can easily soften the doctrinal edges of one’s ministry, or encourage an overbalance in favour of liberal theology. McConnell espouses a full blown adherence to core doctrine, but he also upholds the Word of God preached in the power of the Spirit of God as the chief means by which God brings people from death to life, from darkness to light. Secondly, there is an unwavering commitment to the local church as God’s means of making his gospel known in schemes and housing estates. A common victim of socially conscious Christian work is ecclesiology. Not so, here. McConnell is a fearless critic of para–church work and a fierce advocate for church planting and revitalisation. If one were to subtract the local church from this text, its entire thesis would collapse. Thirdly, there is a helpful emphasis on indigent ministry on schemes and in housing estates. The need not merely to preach but to plant churches and raise up leaders from within communities is placed front and centre throughout the text. McConnell insists on rejecting patronising or condescending approaches to the work he is advocating for. The Least, the Last, and the Lost has an urgent message to the wider evangelical community – we must reach those in poverty in the UK. We must work to plant churches in deprived areas in our own towns and cities, and we must direct significant financial and prayerful resources towards those already doing so further afield. The basis for issuing this call is the reality on the ground across the UK, but primarily the Scriptures’ injunction that we make disciples of all people. McConnell offers compelling and convicting evidence that churches often have a cursory commitment to helping the poor, and are quick to engage in activities which salve the conscience, but serve to effectively reinforce patronage and dependency. The solutions offered by this book are costly, but their biblical basis cannot be gainsaid. This book occupies a unique space in my library, and in my heart. There is cogency in its argument and urgency in its message. There are times when its message might have been somewhat condensed, and there are occasional repetitions of key facts, but in all honesty I probably needed these elements reinforced as many of them were new to me, or easily brushed aside. Mez McConnell is to be commended for writing a disturbing, informative, passionate, Christ–honouring, and potentially world–changing book, bursting with fervour for Jesus, His gospel, and the work of mission in our most needy places.
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