In this first session we explore whether or not our social class is an issue in the church and in wider society today. Watch the video below in your group and then discuss the questions prompted by the content.
It might surprise you to know from the start that this book is not really about divisions. It is ultimately about unity in diversity. It is about the church being all it is designed to be: a demonstration of the manifold wisdom of God, where people from all tribes, nations and backgrounds are part of the same body, the same family, the ‘one new humanity’ in Christ (Eph 2:15). Jesus demolishes divisions but cultivates diversity.
However, in order to embrace, affirm and value our differences, we need to understand what keeps us apart from those around us. We need to explore the ways in which we might inadvertently exclude, alienate and even offend those who share our faith but not our life experience. We need to see the invisible divides.
As a new Christian we are faced with a lot of new concepts such as how to pray, worship, read the Bible and be in relationship with God. The issue of class is an issue when joining a predominantly middle-class entity. This is not because the Church is not welcoming, but rather there can be difference in people’s life experiences up to that point.
Is class an issue today in the Church or in wider society? Should we be talking about this issue of class at all? If it’s just about life experience, how can there be changed to make a more inclusive environment. If we can make more people feel as though they do belong and are accepted, then this issue is not just a good thing to talk about but a needed topic to discuss. The British Social Attitude Survey shows that 60% of people surveyed considered themselves working-class. Of this 80% say that class is still a dividing issue. Given these statistics we can fairly say class can be an issue and should be discussed.
Research conducted by the Evangelical Alliance concluded that 81% of people in Church life have a university degree, compared to 27% of the population as a whole! Perhaps there are huge groups of people missing from our churches, who can bring diversity of opinion and enrich church life and communities.
Jesus prayed for unity. In His group of disciples and apostles there was a group of people who would not have usually been out together, people from very different backgrounds. For example, there was as a wealthy tax collector alongside fishermen. Jesus called everyone into his close circle – He wants us to do the same; he wants us to embrace diversity.
In Revelation 7:9 it says, 9 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.
This is pre-cursor or what the Church should look like. We should be pointing to this way of life. Jesus wants us to have unity within our diversity. This is why it is important that we can have conversation about issues like this facing the Church today.
One of the key issues falls with leadership – people will follow where they are lead. Perhaps if we want to change we need to look at how churches are lead. This begs the question of what and how we can do things differently when it comes to raising up leaders in the Church. The working classes should be represented on leadership teams.
Is it worth reviewing how we structure our Church meetings? Can things we do in services be off-putting or give off the wrong messages. We call church family but the issue there is people define family in different ways. What happens in my family is probably different to what happens in yours. As cultures clash there may be some issues. Maybe the cultural differences in church put people off coming. Are we willing to change our services and traditions to help people be unified.