Thursday, October 22, 2009

Council Estate Christians 24: More on using class categories

Earlier I wrote about the difficulties in using class categories.

Today I read this article in the news about stopping welfare benefits for middle class people.

It was interesting to me for two reasons:

1) Middle Class was defined as "[Reform' defines middle class as a household where the total income equates to £15,000 a year for each adult and £5,000 per child." Which for a 2 child family would be £40,000.

2) It is amazing to me that in the UK we give benefits to people on £40,000!

But I'm only writing about point 1 today, and I'm really thinking aloud here so don't shoot me!

In the article they've used the term 'middle class' in a very narrow way - in financial terms, and I see why. It makes a lot of sense in their context. When you are trying to work out where to draw the line on benefits - you're going to do it with regards to income - not your accent.

So this got me thinking that it may be helpful to deliberately use the terms 'middle class' or 'working class' in narrow ways depending on what we are talking about. For example:

If I am highlighting the cultural differences between middle class and working class Christians - then it may be helpful to use these terms, and also to explain that I am referring to culture. If on the other hand I am pointing out that wealthy churchs have a responsibility to help poor churches - then maybe its helpful to use the terms middle and working class - and again to define it in economic terms.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Council Estate Christians 23: Is the Church any further behind the rest of Society?

Today I read the following article in the news:

It was a reminder to me how British society seems to be so far behind in looking at inner city problems. It seems to me that whenever we see a problem on the streets, it takes up to 5 years for the rest of society to see these problems and to respond to them.

The guidance of colleges on knife and gang crime is incredibly late. I used to work in an F.E college and had to deal with these issues - and the only guidance I ever received was "If in danger blow a loud whistle"!!!!????!

The police's response to youth gangs is also very late - do you remember a few years ago when the police denied that we had youth gangs?

So, I'm thinking today about two points:

1) The church in Britain is quite far behind in looking at these issues, but so is the rest of society. So we're not just dealing with a church problem, but a problem with British society that affects the church.

2) A lesson to be learned is to listen to inner city indigenous people. If they say there is a gang or knife problem, then it may be worth listening to them. It seems to me that in church planting, youth work, and social action, indigenous people (as in born and bred in inner city areas, not the way the BNP uses the term!) are ignored far too much, and out of date plans are made by people with good intentions but bad information.