‘Takes my breath away and significantly affects my understanding of the purposes of God.’
Mike Pilavachi, Soul Survivor
While there are beacons of hope, UK church attendance continues to fall, and reaching the next generation remains a great challenge. Faced with finding ourselves on the margins, where can we – the Church – find encouragement on how God works through those who seem to have been ‘forgotten’?
Chris Lane has been living and working among those on the margins for more than two decades, after planting a church in Salford in the 1990s. In Not Forgotten, he recounts some of the difficulties his community has faced, and how the Lord has led them through desert times and into a place of faith and healing. Along the journey, God has revealed things about Himself and His ways that Chris could not have discovered apart from the wilderness, and which now offer hope to the wider Church. As Pete Greig comments in his foreword, ‘I can almost hear all the sighs of relief around the country as people discover that they’re really not alone.’
Taking the sweep of Scripture as a guide, Chris shares faith-building stories of the unlikely people God has raised up – from characters in the Bible and Church history to contemporary church planters and other pioneers in ‘forgotten’ places. He reveals how those on the margins have always had a special place in God’s heart, and how we as individual Christians and the wider Church can hope to meet with Him in new ways when we find ourselves in the wilderness.
‘Since I wrote my first book, Ordinary Miracles, four years ago,’ comments Chris, ‘we have had the very hardest times as a church since we started. But I have known God in a deeper way than ever, and experienced His presence more intensely and profoundly than before. And I honestly believe that some of the deepest learning and most important truths that the Church needs to hear are coming from the estates and marginalised communities – the ‘forgotten’ places and people. Just when the Church is announcing yet more gloomy figures of decline in attendance, there are utterly beautiful things happening on the margins. God is at work!
‘I am still praying for revival as we did at the start, but it doesn’t look like stadiums full of bouncing worshippers. It looks like tables of welcome and healing and transformation. It looks like flowers pushing through cracks in the pavement and providing vulnerable beauty. It sounds like the laughter of my friends who have sustained and challenged me. It is the remarkable perseverance of others mentioned in this book who are planting churches in places seen as spiritual deserts, but who are discovering streams and springs and people of peace.’
Wherever you are, be inspired by Not Forgotten to keep going, keep loving and keep sharing the good news. Because when we walk with Jesus in the wilderness, we can hear the gospel in fresh ways, see life-giving streams flow, and discover a Church that is full of hope.
‘Weaving personal anecdotes through a stunning overview of the whole narrative of Scripture, Chris reminds us of the core truths that God uses unlikely people and seeks our faithful obedience rather than our success.’
Rev Dr Hannah Steele, London Monday Centre Director, St Mellitus College
Not Forgotten by Chris Lane (ISBN: 9781912726585) is published by Instant Apostle and is available on 15th April 2022 from bookshops and online retailers. Christian Life and Practice, paperback, 192pp, £9.99.