Class Boundaries vs. the Supremacy of Christ

8 May

The middle class Christian

I have some disastrous news: The church has gone middle class.

Let me evidence this claim:

  • Our church in rural Cheshire has 300 odd members. We co-planted a church in the local council estate years ago. Few attend and few go to help.
  • A church in Kent and a church in Newcastle advertised for a pastor. The Kent church was flooded with applications. The Newcastle church had one.

It’s certain. The church is middle class.

So what?

How many people have been educated at a red-brick University? Not many. Say 0.1% of the population? Yet this is most evangelicals only mission field. No wonder our numbers are so few.

This has never been our way:

  • Whitfield preached as workers came out of the coal mines.
  • The Reformation was so popular amongst the populace Luther had to hold off a Marxist revolution.
  • Paul’s converts were rarely wise or of noble birth (1 Corinthians 1:26-27).

I’m not saying leave the academy. Wesley, Whitfield, Luther, Calvin and Paul were all well educated. Yet I do say gifted middle-class pastors should give up their suburban dream and move to the city. They should consider preaching to drug addicts and prostitutes as their master would.

We must give up our prejudices. The gospel is for everyone, not just undergraduates.

(Picture by iambigred under the Creative Commons Licence)

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2 Responses to “Class Boundaries vs. the Supremacy of Christ”

  1. rjs1 May 8, 2008 at 7:03 pm #

    I don’t want to paint with too broad a brush stroke, but I think one reason has been the style of preaching. I attended a church in Elswick (Newcastle) which was in a very poor area and the preaching was simple and good. If ou went to another ‘Reformed’ church the preaching was overly intellectual. This is naturally offputting to the illeducated.

  2. Tim Wilson May 8, 2008 at 7:55 pm #

    I think that’s a very perceptive point. I heard of a recently saved woman not going to the talks by John Piper at New Word Alive because the first went totally over her head. That woke me up. I love Piper. Yet in the real world we can’t spend 20 minutes talking about our title.

    It’s a great temptation. At the weekend I was going to preach to young people at my Church. I desperately want to impress my Uni church with my preaching. But for Christ’s sake I had illustrations about Nintendo Wii’s, skateboarding and getting my car towed. I think it was the right decision

    I think your church got it right too. But knowledge puffs up and the desire to look like the intellectual reformed guy is massive.

    Thanks for your comments.

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