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A Church That Kicks Out the Poor

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Photo: Michael Coghlan

Photo: Michael Coghlan

(Thanks to Robert Martin for the video.)

A friend of mine just told me about her home church in a rich European city. Lots of wealthy people are going there, and eventually a poor Romanian beggar showed up asking for money outside the church. My friend and her friends felt compassion for this poor woman, got her some breakfast and invited her in. People were staring. People were whispering. A lady came to them and said that the Romanian woman is scaring her children and that she’s probably involved in trafficking, with criminals taking the money she is begging for. Eventually, a man came and led her out of the church. She wasn’t welcome.

Needless to say, my friend and her friends were chocked. They took this lady to another church. Here, she was radically saved, receiving Christ as her saviour. She was very happy, but even though if she wasn’t kicked out this time, most people didn’t speak to her or tried to build a relationship with her. My friend and her friends were the exception of course, they collected money for her to pay for her son’s surgery back in Romania, but it was hard since many fellow Christians didn’t want to give.

Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? (James 2:2-6)

Before we judge these churches though, examine yourself and your own congregation. John Chrysostom said “When you are weary of praying and do not receive, consider how often you have heard a poor man calling, and have not listened to him.” Are there any poor people in your church? If not, why don’t they come? If there are, are their needs met? What is your attitude to the beggar on the street? Do you give to the one who asks you as Jesus commanded us (Lk 6:30)? Do you have prejudices like in the video above?

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6 Comments

  1. 8thday4life says:

    Today I and some friends were asked by a homeless man in my city: “I have been here a couple weeks now and I’ve noticed so many churches. Lots and lots of buildings. Big buildings. I was wondering if there were any that offered a place for homeless people who are ready to get off the street (i.e. in recovery, etc..) and need a way to transition out?” Sadly … the answer is no. Not that I am aware of anyway. There are missions in the homeless district who try to do this, run by Christians. But there are no “churches” doing this. We were doing what a lot of people do – going down to show compassion through giving. But we were also asked, “How do you go about really making a difference in a life past giving things and then going home?” I have been asking myself this question for at least 2 years. And I’m beginning to find a few beginnings to answers. But the HUGE problem remains: A largely uncaring church, blind to the need in their own zip codes. A church with so much wealth they could easily make a difference for many many people. I replied today that I pray that God begins to open hearts because that is the sad reason why the answer is “no” to his question. We don’t want to show compassion (which is suffering with) but pity – throwing something at the problem and running away. And when I say WE.. I mean me too. I have only just started to know what it means to take up the cross and follow.

    • Mark H says:

      Just a question, but if it is the churches that are staffing and funding the missions that are feeding and helping to house the poor and homeless, then isn’t that the same as the churches offering the services themselves? It has been my experience that a large percentage of the programs that help the poor, drug addicted, homeless, and disadvantaged are organized and run by Christians. We certainly need to mobilize the larger number of people in the church who are not reaching out to those around them, but we also shouldn’t discount what the church as a whole is doing.

      • 8thday4life says:

        It is a fair question, and yes – those in my city that are in “the district” helping with shelters, are Christian based, but only one is sponsored by a denomination that also has churches on the outside. The rest are dedicated solely to helping the least of these. While this is admirable and I am so thankful that God has put it on the hearts of some – I still have to wonder why SO few, and why those few have to rely heavily on government funding and programs to even stay afloat. I live in the Bible belt and there is a church on every corner in my very large city. There is so much abundance and excess everywhere I look. I have been repeatedly grieved at the lack of interest, not only in the poor on our own streets, but even suffering believers in other countries too – the persecuted. It’s not something you can change by telling people they “should” care. You can’t make them care. All I can do is pray for God to open hearts and eyes.

        I think many individuals and churches have the attitude that “someone else” will take care of the problem, and even if they want to help, it’s hard to know how. There is so much they could do to fill in the gap that the overloaded agencies cannot cover, mostly in friendship, fellowship, and coming along side as mentors. It is easy to feel lost and invisible, and there is also a giant leap it takes to get out of that ditch once you fall in. Much of the help is aimed at keeping people alive, which is good, but not necessarily helping out of it, for those who are willing and able. Not everyone is willing, but for those who are, Christians could be doing so much. Even if each church in my city just adopted one homeless person – it could have a huge impact. I would really be curious to take a survey of most church budgets and find out where their treasure really is… as Jesus taught – that’s where are hearts are too.

      • 8thday4life says:

        As I was wondering about church budgets, had this in my inbox this morning on another blog I follow – talking about the decline of traditional churches because they can’t stay afloat financially. Maybe the problem isn’t just lack of compassion but that we need a whole new paradigm. Blog is called “Holy Soup”

        ,,,,,,,,,”I’ve lost count of the number of times that people have told us, “Churches just want your money.” They’ve picked up on the financial pressures facing most churches today. They do understand that ministry requires funding. But they intuitively smell something foul about how many churches’ offerings are being used.

        They are accustomed to evaluating the effectiveness of non-profit organizations. They are aware that charities that do the most with donors’ dollars keep their administrative costs relatively low. For example, the American Red Cross spends 8 percent of its revenues on administrative and fundraising expenses. World Vision spends 14 percent. Compassion International spends 16 percent.

        Comparatively, what do churches spend on personnel, buildings and administration expenses? Those items consume 82 percent of the average church’s budget, according a study from the Evangelical Christian Credit Union.

        You could argue about comparing a church’s expenses to a public charity’s expenses. But the enormous disparity is striking, especially to the public. It’s made worse by looking at how churches allocate funds to direct ministries. According to the ECCU study, chuches use 3 percent of their budget for children’s and youth programs, and 2 percent for adult programs. Local and national benevolence receives 1 percent of the typical church budget.”

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The author

Micael Grenholm - a Swedish charismactivist residing with the Jesus Army in the UK.

Micael Grenholm - a Swedish charismactivist residing with the Jesus Army in the UK.

Check out my YouTube channel!

A Living Alternative

God vs Inequality

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