I recently discovered Duncan Forbes’ blog, Council Estate Christianity. I’m about to move, next week, from one inner city church to another and have found Duncan’s stuff spot on. Here’s some of his really useful observations from his blog category “Council Estates”
On Christianity being synonymous with the middle class, viewed from both sides of the divide:
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.
On why there are few Council Estate Christians:
In my humble opinion this is the main reason why there are so few churches on council estates. Very few people are sent out to preach the gospel on council estates.
On the greatest problem for council estates:
Over the years I have heard shock from some people about the social deprivation and crime of council estates, but this is not the greatest problem. Our greatest problem is not knowing God as our loving creator. Our greatest problem is that we live as enemies to God, and we need to be brought into a right relationship with God.
On learning styles and bible teaching:
The whole notion of learning styles for individuals is on shaky ground, yet has been surprisingly naively accepted (even by myself). To then apply this notion to Council Estates goes well beyond the evidence.
And on the danger of making something current:
10 years ago, when I felt God call me to plant a church on a Council Estate (which I was born and raised on), hardly any Christians seemed to be talking about Council Estates. Recently however, it appears to have become one of the ‘in things’ to talk about.
Thanks Duncan, keep posting!