Aren't we all middle class now? We're a nation that proudly self-identifies as egalitarian. It is no longer self-evident where "Blue-collar" and "working-class", part company with "middle-class". It feels somehow un-Australian to even acknowledge the existence of social class.
And yet, it would be foolish to think we as a community have somehow banished class divisions from among us. Consider: the awkwardness we feel discussing class is still potent enough to fuel three seasons of the Logie nominated sitcom "Upper Middle Bogan".
Some have suggested that the new “working class” are the welfare class, or workers dependent on government housing, or newly arrived migrants, or those who are culturally or socially stigmatised.
I don't yet have a knock-down classification for who falls outside the great Australian "middle". However, there seems little doubt that most of those groups mentioned above are under represented in Anglican churches, of which I am a part.
I'm currently working my way through Mike Savage's "Social Class in the 21st Century - perhaps it may have some insights into the forms class still takes? We'll see.
Several years ago I read Tim Chester’s Book “Unreached: Growing Churches in Working-Class and Deprived Areas”. It is not manifesto for any particular model of church ministry. Importantly, it also does not focus on economic and resourcing barriers to ministry among the socially disadvantaged.
It did confront a number of unexamined assumptions I had held about relating to others in ministry: assumptions which shortened my ministry reach, beyond the "middle".
Over the next few posts, I’m going to try and process some of the thoughts and observations from Tim Chester’s book that I found most crystalising for my own thought.
Next Post here - SOCIAL NETWORKS: ministry beyond the "middle"
Find Tim’s book here: