Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Council Estate Christians 10: Christians are middle class

By the way, I think there are major problems in using the categories middle\upper\working class - but I'll write about that another day.

There is a common perception on council estates that Christians are middle class. This results in many people thinking:

1) They will never be accepted by Christians because of their background
2) Christians will never understand them.
3) They could never be a Christian - unless they changed their culture.
4) They need to change their fashion, venacular, and sense of humour in order to be more Christian.

I think there are a number of factors for this problem:

1) The majority of Christians in England are middle class.
2) The majority of Christians dress in a middle class manner. Some churches even have dress codes for the preachers that involve a shirt and tie (which is often perceived as a class marker).
3) The majority of Christians talk in a middle class manner.
4) The majority of Christian leaders are middle class - hence both their example, and their sermons come across as very middle class.
5) The majority of Christian authors are middle class.
6) The majority of Christians do not look into council estate issues, but rather focus on middle class issues e.g., How to evangelise post-modern university students.
7) Many Christians actually confuse middle class values with biblical values. Of course some mc values may well be biblical, but some, such as self-reliance are clearly unbiblical.

So, if you grow up on a council estate, you are not gonna see many Christian role models. And if you do see any, they might well be portraying the middle class lifestyle more loudly than the Christian lifestyle.

Some will want to become middle class, and will love the idea of wearing a suit to church, and getting a job in finance. But others, like myself, will want to know, what does a council estate Christian look like? What is council estate Christianity? What does the Bible say about protecting my family in an area where the Police don't seem to care? What does a regenerate christian from a council estate look like - surely its not a bloke who wears a tie to church?

I believe this is a major hindrance to the gospel in council estates. I hope that more Christians will be aware of this, and consider if there are things they can do to counter this problem.