In the Church Times today there are lots of perspectives, some which I identify with more than others, on the future of the church. One is a great piece by ex Bishop of Liverpool James Jones, who always speaks utter good sense and has his head very firmly in the real world. He talks about class, urban culture and church – sadly I can’t post a link as its a subscriber only article.
However it chimed with a conversation we had at the Upper Room today and I have been having in other places of late, regarding the death of working class culture. Social clubs, boxing clubs, music halls, are all closing or have long gone all over the UK and are not being replaced by anything else. The church is mainly absent in many disadvantaged areas or else is populated by middle class people from the edges of the area. Many people simply do not feel comfortable entering.
Some new folk came to the Upper Room today. They had incredibly hard and sad stories to tell of domestic abuse and violence that had affected them and their children, among many other difficult circumstances and yet they were strong and battling to carve out a life and make stability and meaning. One of them said to another after being there a while this morning “This place, it’s just what we’ve been looking for for so long!”
For some reason the Church doesn’t seem able to relate to this part of our culture and yet people are more desperate than ever for the hope, encouragement and support we should be able to offer. Unless we’re so caught up on the treadmill of keeping our existing show on the road that we never leave the building and go out to where people are.