A Remarkable Difference
Eastbourne is only sixty miles away from London. Admittedly, the demographic in London is much more ethnically diverse than it is in Eastbourne, but the two churches share identical values, are in the same country, are of comparable sizes, and are both evangelistically engaged in their communities. Even so, once you put the problem of evil to once side—and let’s face it, there are few towns or cities in the Western world where that is not the biggest question people have about the Christian faith—the most common question is Eastbourne did not come up once in South East London, in seven weeks of asking. And the first question I was asked personally after the first message in London did not come up once in Eastbourne (as far as I can remember; I certainly didn’t engage with it in any of our resources), in seven weeks of asking. The topics in each case were sexuality and slavery, if you’re interested.
This is not to say that sexuality isn’t an issue in Lewisham, or that slavery isn’t an objection in Eastbourne, of course. The sample size here is small, and necessarily selective, and a great many people have questions that they don’t ask. But the experience nevertheless illustrates three things, I think. 1) Diversity makes a big difference. 2) Cities are not necessarily more secular than provincial towns (partly because of 1). 3) Contextualisation really matters.