Thursday, March 11, 2010

Why the church doesn't reach the poor

As a 20 year pastor and a two year charity director I have struggled with why the church doesn't reach the poor. I struggled with why my church didn't and why it is hard for us. Here are some unfortunate thoughts that usually pop up when someone considers helping the poor...

1. They deserve what they get.
At the core of all reasons may be this one. They are poor cause they won't work, they are poor cause they do drugs, they are poor cause their lifestyle is destructive. If they'd get their act together, they wouldn't be poor and I'm not motivated to help someone who is doing it to themselves.

While that may be true, consider this: ALL we like sheep have gone astray. Jesus cared for you while you were yet a sinner.

2. They take more out of the plate than they put into it.
Yep, they sure do. Consider this: Acts 4:32-35 ...and they (the early Christians) felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had. ...There were no needy people among them, because those who owned land or houses would sell them and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need.

The early church had some that put in the plate and some that took out. That's what the money was for. We use it on many other things but not too much on people who need help so that there is no needy people among us. 

3. I don't want their kids around my kids.
In our ministry some of the children are dirty, spit at us, hit us, say horrible things to us, hit other kids, hoard the treats, disrupt the service and once even stole the offering.

Listen, I'm not saying this isn't a challenge. But you send your kids to school every day for six hours a day with the same kids and you expect their teachers to maintain a safe environment. Your teachers can too. And seriously, what do you think Jesus meant when he said, SUFFER the little children... 

4. They take too much energy.
Yep, sure do. It's true that you have to go their place cause they don't have a car and pick 'em up or have Bible study close by. It's true that many of them weren't "raised right" and don't even know the simplest things like hygiene or basic care. It's true that many of them don't know how to provide structure, boundaries and discipline for their children, and it's true that there are a lot of issues you've already worked through that they haven't. But if they they had it all figured out they wouldn't need you... they'd be you.

Friend, these are only a few, but they are the ones I hear most frequently. The church is not for us only, who are easy to take care of and can get by on a good Bible class, a good sermon and some good music once a week. The church is for them, the broke, dysfunctional, dirty, not raised right, lazy, messed up folks.

Jesus said it this way when the 'church folks' "complained bitterly to Jesus' disciples saying, "Why do you eat and drink with such scum?" Jesus answered them, "Healthy people don't need a doctor—sick people do. (Luke 5:30-31 NLT)


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