The Gospel & Class
We’re delighted to be supporting The Gospel & Class conference organised by Acts 29 at the end of September. Adrian Reynolds is going along and says your church should make it a priority too.
I know my roots. My grandparents were all working class EastEnders. My paternal grandmother, who died very young, worked in the local MK factory making plugs. Her husband served his whole life in the Navy and, when he retired from active service, was trained as a cobbler and never worked again.
But I also know what I am now.
Even though those are my roots, I am fully aware that I am middle class, according to any measure you choose. My parents owned their own home. They sent me to University. I worked in a white collar senior management job before entering ministry. My mum sent me to elocution lessons to make sure I lost my estuary accent and she also paid for me to learn the piano and clarinet.
Yes, by any measure, I am middle class.
I guess that’s one of the reasons I feel comfortable in British evangelicalism. For whilst it has not always been, it is – at present – largely a middle class movement.
Talking about class
We don’t talk about class very much really, unless we’re the victim. Ironically, when I worked for an organisation that was largely above me in the complex British class structure, I used to think about it a lot. But now I’m working for FIEC I secretly convince myself that it’s not such a big deal.
I am, of course, entirely wrong.
The essence of being a Christian is, in fact, to think of others before myself: that means to consider how structures and groupings affect them. Christianity, as lived out, is not about me. It’s about everyone else but me. That challenge manifests itself in many ways. For some, it will be about race. For others it is about location. But wherever you are in Britain, it is nearly always about class.
Odd then, that we don’t talk about it enough. Odder still that we do very little about it. We don’t cherish and nurture leaders from across the class spectrum. We don’t make much effort to plant churches in hard to reach places. We don’t cultivate friendships which make us uncomfortable.
It’s as though we don’t care.
We do care of course. It’s just that (if we’re being kind on ourselves) we don’t know what to do about it or (if we’re being blunter) it’s just too hard to do anything about it. That’s why we need to talk about class.
A first step
We’re delighted that Acts 29 has planned a one day Church in Hard Places event in London at my old gaff, East London Tabernacle on 29 September. It’s not going to save the world nor solve every issue we have with class (especially those deep-seated ones), but it’s a start. And an important start. There are other things happening behind the scenes, but this is a very public one to which you could sign up. I don’t promise you a comfortable day. When we have to change, there is always pain.
But it’s good pain. It’s pain we need to bear. For the lost souls of Britain are too precious to our Father for us to be wrapped up in our own selfish, proud class structures – whatever they may be.
You can book online for this conference at acts29.com/the-gospel-class and all those who come along will receive Church in Hard Places as a free e-book.