It might surprise you, but local churches are the most diverse places in the country.
“Churches are best social melting pots in modern Britain,” ran the headline of a Daily Telegraph article in December 2014. Based on a survey of over 4000 people aged 13 upwards, the article explained, “Churches and other places of worship are more successful than any other social setting at bringing people of different backgrounds together, well ahead of gatherings such as parties, meetings, weddings or venues such as pubs and clubs.”
It went on to show how churches were far more racially and socially diverse than the average UK setting, and came a close second to sporting events when it came to age. Church, it seems, is for everyone.
Church for Everyone
Then again, maybe this isn’t so surprising. Ever since its foundation, two thousand years ago, the church has been a multi-coloured blend of Europeans and Asians, men and women, slaves and masters, old and young, rich and poor. In a world where birds of a feather tend to flock together, even in religious contexts — wherever you are in the world, mosques and Hindu temples tend to look and feel pretty much the same — the church has often stood out as a place where totally different people come together as one. The only thing we have in common is our shared commitment to the God revealed in Jesus.
Jesus unites people who would never otherwise know each other. When he was born, he was admired by peasant farmers and foreign philosophers. When he got his twelve disciples together, they included impulsive alpha males alongside dreamy mystics, and rebels alongside collaborators. The crowds who followed him were urban and rural, rich and poor. He died between outlaws, then was buried in the tomb of an aristocrat. Something about this man drew the attention of everyone. It still does.
“Churches and other places of worship are more successful than any other social setting at bringing people of different backgrounds together”
That’s not just true globally, but locally here at Kings. Every Sunday, we gather together as kids and teens, babies and grandparents and students. We have academics and artists. We have marrieds, singles, parents and single parents, and others who have gone through the heartache of divorce, or the pain of bereavement. We have the employed and the job seeker, the long term sick and the long term carer. We have pharmacists licensed to deal in drugs, and others who have dealt illegally. We have current law-keepers and former law breakers: prison officers, police officers, politicians and magistrates, right alongside those who’ve turned over a new leaf. We have army and navy, sparks and plumbers, writers, artists and musicians. Shelf stackers and baristas and till operators. Alcohol dependents and addiction counsellors. Former atheists, agnostics and sceptics; former Muslims, Hindus and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Kings really is a church for everyone.