As we think about our city and church, there are 4 numbers affecting the city of Oxford - that is, the people of Oxford! - and therefore Oxford Community Church. Let these stats inform your praying as we move into 2020!
Number one: 26% population turnover - the highest in the UK
At 26% turnover Oxford has the highest population turnover of the 55 biggest cities in England - perhaps surprisingly, this includes London. This turnover comes from the big role played in the city by education, so that international migration (often graduate and post-graduates) is a big part of this 26%.
This fast turnover makes it a challenge to establish the sort of community we aspire to, but provides a great opportunity to see disciples and leaders sent to other cities and nations.
Number two: a population which is 24% students - the highest in the UK
As a percentage of the overall population, Oxford again ranks first among the 55 cities for the number of students in the city. A sister statistic shows that 32% of residents are 18-29 year olds.
Number two links to number one, and while at times the number of students in the city can seem a challenge, again it is a tremendous opportunity impact our nation and the nations for Christ, as students move on after their education.
Number three: 36% not of white British ethnic origin - the 3rd highest in the southeast
Perhaps more surprisingly, Oxford ranks 5th in the UK (and 3rd in the southeast) on ethnic diversity, with 36% of residents having an ethnic origin other than white British. Another measure of ethnic diversity is that 28% of residents were born outside the UK.
In wider society diversity can often lead to disunity, but in the church God wants it to lead to unity-amid-diversity, as a powerful statement of the reconciling impact of the gospel in our lives.
Number 4: The worst housing costs in the UK
Compared to average earnings, the average price of housing in Oxford is the worst in the country, at 17.3. That is, the average house costs 17.3 years of earnings, making Oxford the most unaffordable place to buy a house in the UK - even worse than London. For rentals, Oxford is still the 3rd worst place.
In order to play our part in the opportunities provided by numbers one, two and three, we need to pray that God gives people faith and finance to remain living in and around this city, as they play their part in God's purposes for this city!