Couple of weeks ago I was talking with my divisional commander about ‘church.’ It all started with a conversation about my mother. Now, my mother does not go to church. The reason for that is simply because she isn’t a Christian. More than that, my mum is a product of some tough life experiences, she is what you can call a diamond in the rough. I say diamond because she has some great qualities surrounded by a whole load of rough stuff.
The other reason my mother doesn’t go to church is that she’s grown up with the idea that people who go to church think they are better than her. One of the ‘characteristics’ if you like of people from places like me and my mum is that in spite of having nothing, you don’t let people look down on you. Her experience of people who go to church is just that. The reason that might be is because, as I say, she can be rough.
Back to my conversation with the DC…I was saying to him that I think the ideal church would be the church that my mother would join. You see, the kind of Christian community that my mother would join would be the kind of community that could look past a person’s culture, character, guarded emotions, language, general manner and outward appearance and see the need at the heart and be willing to refuse to let the outward dictate who is worth bothering with.
The thing is that my mother is not unspiritual…she’s been to spiritualists, tea-readers, mediums, woman’s masonic groups and all the rest. The problem with my mother is that there has never been a church bold enough to embrace her. Part of this is a geography thing…the only evangelical church in our village is a very middle class Brethren assembly. The other part of it is that the vast majority of churches aren’t ready for my mother.
But don’t lets fall into the trap of thinking my mum is some sort of extreme monster. No, she is fairly typical of many women in the town I grew up in and actually a bunny rabbit compared to women her age I encountered during our time in the East-End of Glasgow.
William Booth talked about the submerged tenth. I’m not so sure that poverty is the measure of that ‘submerged’ people today…its more likely accurate to describe the submerged as the people that church culture has totally lost contact with. What’s more, I reckon that the figure is much more than a tenth.
Where else should The Salvation Army be but in the places where the submerged live?