This is the sixth and final part of a longer conversation on the topic of race and class. Check out part 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 here.
In this video, Mez McConnell, Ian Williamson, John Onwuchekwa and Sung Kim talk about why we need more middle-class churches not less as we seek to build ministry in poorer communities?
Mez: How churches like yours and others around who have got some money, got middle class people or whatever, got educated people, have got decent incomes, first thing we want to do is – and we need to repent of this, guys from our area because we do have chips on our shoulder, don't we?
Ian: Yeah, yeah, I got a whole bag.
Mez: I have a whole chip shop! Right? ...is that, we need to sit down and have a conversation, but we need to sit down and have a conversation as equals because I always say this: we might be poor but we're not stupid. And I think, often, people equate intelligence with a degree. And some of the dumbest people I know are PhDs, you know what I'm saying! So, I think, 1) Have an intelligent conversation – I think, secondly, we need to celebrate churches like yours! I want more churches like yours, not less! I don't have any problem with churches that just reflect their contexts. I mean, 20schemes and what we're trying to do in the ministry in Scotland is about growing churches... it says 'Gospel Churches For Scotland's Poorest' but we're not trying to grow 20 poor churches, we're trying to grow 20 gospel churches in poor communities and that should reflect people who've got PhDs, you know, people who've got OCD! Know what I'm saying? And so, we want more gospel churches. I think you can give us finances, and listen finances are good, we're all planters, right? We need moola to make the world go round, but I think that can be an easy thing for rich churches: write us a cheque and, you know, there you go, conscience eased! Or I'll do 2 hours a week in a soup kitchen, conscience eased! My challenge to churches like yours and others; and my own is: send us your best! So often I get pastors ringing me and saying: "I've got so-and-so, this guy in my church, he's a bit odd, or he doesn't quite fit, or whatever he'd be great for your work!" What he means is, he's a pain in my neck, you know, but why don't he come to your church, then my nice church will be better. I'm saying: send us your best, we want your best, we need the best back into these communities. So I think there's a combination of factors that need to happen...
John: One of the things that I'd add as well is, find somebody that you do trust, like a Mez that can help vet future partners. So what I've seen time and again, you know, especially now where doing what it is that we're trying to do is the popular thing now. So money comes that way, and so what I've just seen time and time again is a church that's like yours, that really has a heart, who's been connected with a guy that has a golden tongue, he can talk a big game, but when you look behind at what goes on, he's not actually trying to do the stuff that he says. And so I've seen churches pour tonnes of money into a guy, that if you looked at a guy like Mez and asked him: "Hey can you go and look and, kind of, check things out?" That he could come back and say: "This guy's the real deal!" or "Stay away from this guy." And so, find somebody that you trust that can help to filter.