Preston Minster: Nineteen Missed Opportunities

It's something of a tragedy that many churches seem keener to advertise the hiring of their spare rooms than reaching out to lost souls.

According to Blog Preston and the Office for National Statistics, Preston has the highest suicide rate in the UK compared to other towns and cities. There are nearly 19 suicides each year in the city per 100,000 people. The figures are based on the period from 2012-2014. Yet the city's Minster, with its prominent town centre location and imposing architecture, offers no spiritual content or scripture verses on its exterior (and little on its website for that matter) save an advert to rent out its rooms. 
 
A Ribble Valley Methodist church put out a leaflet all about room hire and I know fellow Congregational churches which do the same. Churches exist for people, to help them, comfort them and point them to Christ. They don't exist for their own sake, as though existence was itself some overriding objective. When will churches once again become fishers of men rather than just fundraisers and social clubs?
 
I know big old churches have eye-watering running costs; I want Preston Minster to pay its way and to thrive as a worshipping community. The church might do a whole lot of work with the needy of which their publicity does not boast. But how many of those nineteen victims of suicide walked past that building and looked up to see a banner advertising room hire instead of the Light of the world?