Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A reason we might not be reaching the working class*

Based on what I've noticed areason seems to be because neither like displaying weakness and showing vulnerability, and most churchy things involve that. Think about it; going for coffee, after church staying around and having a 'chat', one on one evangelism, singing, etc etc. These are very middle class things to do that require a certain 'knowledge' of how to behave acceptably in these situations. If you don't know how to behave, it is awkward, and feeling awkward in public is a sign of weakness. Why would you want to go to a place where you are going to feel like that?

If we want to be loving to those different to us, we need to go to their turf with the gospel. Can the trivia and movie nights, and go to the pub and watch the footy and see what happens from there.

Some of this is probably the same for men as well, no matter what their socio-economic status may be. Men don't like feeling weak, and often the akwardness that comes from a one on one conversation can bring that. Don't get me wrong, i think they need it, but we can't force it on them. First things first.

PS. These are just my thoughts, I could be very wrong. But something seems to be amiss, why are our churches so middle class?

*For lack of a better word. I don't know if 'working class' is a good description these days.

15 comments:

Belteshazzar said...

I dont think i understand your definition of working class. do you mean low socio economic?

I think it is what you are saying in terms of being afraid to do something different and new. Also we often take the people, in our churches, who relate to this group and make them like us. Making their evangelistic efforts strained. another reason is relatinships. I was talking to my minister the other day and he said that we usually have 8 significant relationships in our life. the implication for our churchies is that their 8 relationships are family and church people. they dont have time to love and share with non christians. so could another question be is church to busy?

geoffc said...

yep, I mean low socio economic.

so could another question be is church to busy?maybe, but Idon't think it is the key problem. I think it's that we like doing things that we like, and we want to evangelise to people who are easier to relate to.

mark said...

Mate, I'm not sure how well or well not we are reaching the working class, but what's struck me is that the Pentecostals have been heading into South-Western and Western Sydney in force and seem all to able to get in there and reach people. But us Anglicans struggle a little bit to get over there. Do they train their pastors in a more contextually helpful way to minister there? And by extension, to "reach the working class"?

Nick said...

We're not reaching the working class because we're too concerned about being "strategic".

Shame Jesus' interpretation of 'strategic' is completely different:

But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."
Luke 14:13-14

Nick (riding a hobby horse into the sunset)

geoffc said...

No, I don't think they do train their pastors that way. But here the poor tend to do the same as well, and i have thought about why as well. I can think of a few reasons, whoch could be very wrong of course:

1)Penties really do offer that Christ will bring change to your life right now, much better than we evangelicals do, i think. And i'm not talking prosperity gospel either, but the change Jesus will bring into your life.

2) The pentie churches in Redfern seemed to allow a lot more personal expression, and even gave people a voice. So I don't know, maybe it's a place where they can be heard more?

3) Reasons we are sometimes suspicious of that don't just concern the poor, but as to why lots of people are heading to pentecostal churches

geoffc said...

We're not reaching the working class because we're too concerned about being "strategic". Well I don't think I'm being strategic. I think it's about being loving, and making decisions that love these people in how we do church and evangelise.

But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."
Luke 14:13-14
Exactly. Perhaps our middle class way of church is alienating these people rather than giving them the gospel

Phil Nicholson said...

Pente churches reaching the working class is a worldwide phenomenon. I think partly it is the emphasis on experience over intellect. This is something that connects with where most working class people are at. They are attracted to stuff that works and not too concerned with analysis and theory.

The other thing that attracts, as you have mentioned, is practical expressions of love. The first step in most working class people coming to faith is either seeing a prayer answered or because someone showed them unconditional love.

I think these are the apologetics we need to use with these people, not complex reasoned arguments.

I am not so sure about more modern expressions of charismatic churches though (a la Hillsong) - that seems to be more of a middle class thing.

geoffc said...

Thanks Phil, you would know about this more than most.

Have you ever considered starting your own blog and letting the world know what you're doing with the working class in Taiwan?

Phil Nicholson said...

We have recently started a team blog on www.omf.org/taiwan/blog

So far though I am having trouble getting our people to keep it updated. Our current demographic tends to be mostly 40+ and not yet caught on to blogging. The younger members are all still in language study.

More useful is probably the ministry story we update each month at www.omf.org/taiwan/resources/stories__1 . I get someone to write it and then post it for them.

geoffc said...

Thanks Phil, I'll subscribe to it. Look forward to reading it.

Belteshazzar said...

one key thing which i have blogged about, which on mission became apparent to me is the need to actually love people. sharing and caring with them. People are drawn to that because it is sincere and something not really offered by the world. So can we do this, love the world with sincere love, not just to evangelize?

another thing i have noticed from being in a Charismatic church is that you are drawn to exciting people, and places where things are happening. Even if you are not involved you feel like you are apart of something big. I think this is a major draw card. And i think it relates to what you were saying about 'Christ offering something now'.

It is a message that lifts and encourages people that are brought low by the world. This is definitely a big plus.

Some more thoughts for the pot.

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