Urban Life: Our Approach
URBANLIFE provides training and facilitates research for Christian groups in challenging urban areas. There are a number of key features that shape our approach.
Learning is most transformative when it takes place in our own patch or context
We recognise that one of the most important aspects of an incarnational approach to mission is to learn about your own place, your relationship to it and how to reflect theologically in it and about it. This is especially true if we are to more deeply understand the issues of marginalisation and deprivation. Most training still takes place in conference centres, churches or seminar rooms. We believe that the most transformative learning happens when we are able to engage with and reflect upon our own everyday situations.
Training is delivered to the whole group or community
We recognise that it is important for the whole group to learn and grow together in a shared journey of discipleship. If incarnational groups are to be sustainable they cannot be dependent on one ‘expert’ who shows them the way, rather they need to learn and be formed as a whole community.
We focus on subjects that relate to issues of poverty, deprivation and marginalisation
We are interested in working with groups who are engaging with the complex and tough situations that exist in many urban neighbourhoods and the content of our training centres around exploring and deeply thinking about questions that relate to these concerns.
We understand that learning must be an integral part of a community’s ongoing journey
Therefore we aim to assist groups in developing patterns and methods of learning and also to provide practical tools that will help them gain a deeper understanding and aid the formation of good practices. This journey may include a range of things from giving groups and individuals access to diverse resources and research materials to helping groups to network with others in similar situations across the UK. Because training courses are often delivered as one-off events they can fail to connect deeply with our everyday situations; we seek over a period of time to nurture life-long habits of learning that will achieve long term transformation.
We are committed to encouraging good research at all levels
Research is often thought of as ‘detached’ and ‘academic’ and not often of practical use. But good research is something that we can all engage with and it will help us to be more aware of what is going on around us and to see the city in new ways. URBANLIFE will help develop easily accessible approaches for all. We will also facilitate postgraduate research that seeks to explore the relationship of theology and mission to contemporary urban contexts.