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September 10, 2006


Craig Bennett


I wonder if the trend of Christianity in becoming more of a "Individualistic" Christianity in what God has done for me - rather then a corporate / congregational / national response to what God has done for us, and what he wants us to do - is to blame for our lack of response?

Mark H touched on this elsewhere on the blog, about community verses individualism.

Perhaps also Protestism, has thrown the baby out with the bath water in renouncing its more Roman Catholic traditions, such as the establishment of monastries which were a place to feed, teach and shelter the poor?

I find it also interesting that in the name of Christ, mission has caused a lot of problems health wise for indigneous people, such as the transmission of Small Pox.

Deborah Taggart

great thoughts here Shane :)

On a similar track to your point about dualism and therefore we focus on evangelism over social work - just thinking maybe even the narrowness of the way we traditionally present 'Christian careers' and our notions of ministry has an impact. So when the most Christlike life path is seen as 'entering the (pastoral) ministry', we don't encourage our congregations to hear and answer a call from God into 'ministry' areas such as politics and social justice. Thankfully that's changing, but I think it still has underlying impact....

Esmee Uulf

I think the main idea that is coming from both Shane and Deb is Christians are forgetting the teachings of Eph. That we should all be united in our differences. While it is true that we are created to live different lives, we're united by the fact that each of us has been created with a body and a soul. If we are to reach our full potential we need to understand and accept, the things that make each of us similar yet different.

Neil Castro

Sometimes I think we forget that poor people have names, who are made in God's image and whom Jesus died for also, like us. We sometimes only see them as a GROUP who are helpless and so give ourselves permission to play hero in their lives. They are more like objects of our mercy and compassion, a thing which we can do what we deem best.

once again, apologies for the length.
Another reason generally I think is that as much as we would like to see an end to their suffering and injustice, it is no longer part of a bigger dream. Our motivation to commit ourselves to create a just and equal society and to endure sacrifices has waned. Past failures have raised doubts about the destruction of poverty and current values have not offered motivation to keep trying. More people now decide for an alternative position. We can at least do something about where we live, what to eat, whom we meet, and through this, shield ourselves from even thinking about the poor and their helpless situation. This is the road many have taken, and sadly even the church, to continually refuse to acknowledge it in order to make the problem go away...why, because it is easier. But we must take not that many in the church are not in this boat. There are those who committedly and willingly do what they can to practically help and sacrifice those who are in poverty, regardless of the little effect it may have on the grand scheme of things.

I think that helping people and continuing in our attempts to do so is indeed part of the church's universal mission. Evangelism and social responsibility and action cannot be separated from each other. We may think that the church's mission is just to preach the good news, but taking into account Christ's life as an example, we need to do more than just bring good news of hope and faith to them. As a church I believe it is our mission to not only see the needs of the poor, but to display unselfish and loving action toward them, and to continue to do so regardless of the size of problem or solution.

adam white

I think this whole issue serves to remind us of how much our faith is influenced by our society. Even in the church communities, people associate with other people of similar social positions, in fact for Christians to cross these boundaries is a conscious choice to go outside our 'comfort zone'. The parable of the good samaritan was a major shot at the 'church' in Jesus' time for their complete lack of social concern, and how we as Christians should be more like the Samaritan, yet I am challenged on a daily basis at my total lack of concern for the poor in my own community, not just the financially poor, but the emotionally and spiritually poor around me as well. In the back of my mind is the old excuse of 'what could I do, the problems too big', but then I see a mother Teresa who says, 'I just gotta do something!' and just starts with one person.

We ask the question in ethics, WWJD? and on this point I think it is abundantly clear, Jesus went to the prostitutes and lepers and ate and talked with them. It doesn't get clearer than that. The reality is that the problem is WAY too big for one or two Christians to scratch the surface, but what if one or two Christians said 'Jesus, there's gotta be SOMETHING I can do!'

Bruce Chant

Dr Tim Keller has some excellent thoughts on the issues of justice (into which issues of poverty flow).

There are mp3's floating around the web that I'd recommend listening to. As a conservative evangelical, his teaching certainly impacted me (a pente' pastor)!

Iowane Seru

I think this whole talk reminds us that Christ died for the world, not for a specific group of people and also if we look at it from a panaroma view, somehow our fore fathers were in that position but we thank Jah for His love. Shane mentioned and i think the others have also, about our 'comfort zones'how we seem to think that where we are at is the place to be, but in regards of others getting to that place well they just gotta work for it.
I wonder if we were ever helped or catered for when we first became Christians.

The parable of the good samaritan reminds us of our duty... who is our neighbor. In the Church that i attend we were known at first as Bethany Fellowship Centre, but the senior Pst. and the board decided to name the Church after the community. The reason for this was that as a Church we wanted the community to claim that it belongs to the people of Lakemba. So from than till now we are known as Lakemba Chrsitan Fellowship(LCF)But it's more than just naming the Church after the community, it's about getting involved. "For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat,I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me" Matt:25:42-43

I titled my devotions few weeks ago on 'love that cares'. My view at love is: love is a doing word and that is caring. The bible says that the good samaritan took pity on him, love that cares.As a Church, as Christians do we just preach about it and do nothing?

Steve Wall

I have just been on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation website which I thoroughly enjoyed. Go check it out if you have the time:

It is fantastic what they are doing, I am inspired - a testimony that we can make a difference when we, in compassion, act responsibly to the challenges facing us in this world? It puts today's Christianity to shame in many instances. I am not saying that we aren't doing anything (look at Hope Ruwanda, Christian Aid etc, but maybe our religion and its small minded ways has kept us from truly brining the Kingdom of God to the people of this world. I cant go into depth, but where is our focus, when millions are starving - we have all read the stats - what is our money spent on, as far as I understand it much of it is spent in building projects. Yet it has always been God's will to "look out for" those who hurt or are less privilleged. When famine and poverty keep millions from living life to the full, we (those that claim to bear God Name) who have tremendous power to make a change, preach about nice things, getting nice jobs, nicer houses and nicer cars to show we are blessed of God. Am I advocating we need live poor lives, no because we would not be able implement change that way, we are blessed to be a blessing not to gain more but to give more. What I am advocating is that we need to seek for answers and not in the traditional way we have done it in the past. Something fresh, dynamic and forward thinking that will bring real change - but also initiatives that inspire people to see the value of their life and what can be done. (I Liked what you said Debs - people of God with initiative)

What is going on in this world? Read a few of the headlines:
“War Rages in Middle East,” “Suicide Bombings Increase,” “Just War in Iraq,“ “Arms Race Reveals More Countries With Nukes,” “Man Kills Family, Then Self,” “Sniper Kills Ten, Wounds Twenty,” “HIV to Kill Ten Million Annually—and Rise,” “Ferry Overturns—One Thousand Lost,” “Mysterious Illness Kills Ten,” “Market Crashes—Global Recession, Even Depression, on Horizon,” “CEO Indicted—Two Billion Unaccounted For,” “God Banned From Schools,” “Teachers Losing Control of Classrooms,” “Typhoon Kills Thousands,” “Record Drought Grips North America—500-year Flood in Europe,” “Pollution Chokes All Nations,” “More Huge Dead Zones Discovered in Oceans and Lakes,” “200,000 Starve to Death Daily,” “500 Million Contract Malaria Annually—2.5 Million Children Die,” “5 of 6 Marriages Suffer Adultery,” “Two-thirds of Inner-City Births Illegitimate,” “3,000 Pornography Websites Appear Daily,” “Drug Lords Cause Civil War,” “Government Corruption Adds to Growing Cynicism and Voter Apathy,” “Riots Kill 75,” and on and on… like my discussion. It's your fault Shane you got me into this... hehe

We have a job to do fellow Christians, and we need to do it with a new vigor, imagination, careful planning, initiative and a hopeful future minded vision - awakened to the voice of God - not of the past but for today. We can learn from the Bill Gates of this world, we can learn from the Belinda Gates of this world...I hope you look at what a difference they are making. I take my hat off to them - How much more could we be doing though if we set aside personal agenda's and focus on kingdom agenda - to help those in need. I think it is fantastic that we have this oportunity to make change but do we have the heart, the wisdom and the spirit to implement it.

Imagine if 250 million of the 2.3 billion christians around the globe gave $30.00 average - that equates to $7.5billion dollars. It's a start... Well managed, and invested wisely, with honest oversight, just imagine what that we could do? We do have the power to make change but are we willing to lose a little to gain much.

Thanks Shane for bringing this topic up. It has challenged my reason for being in college - for what it is we are being prepared for. It is not about knowledge, which makes proud, but about equipping us for extrodinary service.

Nick Mogensen

"...many men became, of course, extremely rich. But this was perfectly natural and nothing to be ashamed of because no one was really poor. At least, no one worth speaking of..."

Douglas Adams, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

The following is just a thought:

History testifies to a sad fact of human nature: the rich have a tendency to look down on people who do not share their advantage in position. There has always been rich, and as a general rule they have always been slow to reach out to the underpriviledged.

Well, while I appreciate critiquing theology and examining its effect on action, I think that there is more at play here. Could it be that our tardiness to react to the huge problems of global poverty is because we share, to some extent, the values of our rich society and it's imperialistic atitude towards the poor?An attitude which our theology helps us to ignore perhaps?

It is difficult to read the Bible without at all picking up God's heartfelt concern towards the needy. And, as a corollary, God's anger at those who have the means and revelation to do something about it but hypocritically don't.

Lets be fair, some Christians have acted, and done remarkably well too. And these are people who would have held some of the theological tenets which are being critiqued here.

An awesome post Shane. Some great points and a very relevant issue. It breaks my heart just thinking about it.

Paul Tan

I think that a contributing factor is a preoccupation with the notion of church growth. The question of "what will grow our church?" is been thrown around alot, probably much more than the question "What will bless our community?". The first question is inward looking, focussing on methods and ways to build one's own interests, whereas the second question is outward looking, focussing on the needs of the community that we are a part of. When seen through the eyes of church growth, social justice becomes a form of pre-evangelism, like the article says. And as with all evangelistic initiatives, churches like to see a return for the time/effort/resources they pour into it. Blessings to the community then have strings attached (ie the notion that they would then come to our churches. This is a far cry from the position that ministry to the poor is central to our mission as Christians.

Rowena Giunta

Perhaps the church is as blind as the people of Jesus’ day. We so readily critique them for not recognizing Him or understanding His mission and yet I think we do the same. Jesus ministered to the people holistically, negating neither the celestial nor the earthly; He was a social worker and an evangelist. Premillennial pessimism, a gospel that ignores social needs, prosperity doctrine.....I think it sounds like the people who walked the earth when Jesus was alive.

Yes Shane, you are absolutely right, we have misread the message of the gospel of Jesus, and failed to follow His model and pursue His mission.

steve murray

It is always interesting hearing opinions on controversial matters. I guess the problem is how do we actively resolve the problem? And is it every christians individual problem? When i think of poverty i adress it through my western lens. Although i see graphic pictures on t.v and contribute my donation to the street scalper/evangelist, the real issue of poverty is far from my doorstep, or is it?
These questions i am still discovering however i do read the Bible and believe i have a duty to help the poor, and my heart is happy to do so. But sometimes i wonder is there more i can do? and why hasn't God placed the rectifying of this issue on my heart as strong as others....I don't believe any human should go without food,housing,or the core needs to live and i believe Jesus would back me up. One thing i am sure of is we have the tools to rid the world of poverty. I am going to challenge myself to seek God about my role in being more effeective to my response about poverty.

Andrew Hopkins

My name is Andi and I have just been to Rwanda and Kenya and have seen first hand what is going on, so I think I might have a clearer view.

We all over-spiritualize! The fact is that Jesus loves the poor and what concerns our Lord, should also concern us! We should stop trying to come up with some theological reason to why it's wrong or right for the church to be involved or anyone for that matter! The only thing that counts at the end of the day, is what's done... not said! Answer me this, when Jesus so graciously came to earth, who did he spend his time, words and devotion with? I'll tell you straight out He did not spend a minute with the rich, the famous or the high church officials! He was out on the dirty roads spending time with orphans, talking to prostitutes and simply LOVING those who were over-looked and ignored.
I don't know if any one has realised but God places a HUGE deal on the way we treat the poor. Matthew 25:31-45 teaches that the answer to wether we spend eternity in either Heaven or hell is decided by the way we treat the poor! And God also says in His Word that He will answer us accordingly to the ways that we answer to the crys of the poor! No wonder most of the West's prayers and never answered.

God's loves the poor! And regardless of any religious view, love cannot be contained within reason... that's what His Word says. And in closing, Jesus said, "I have treated you with mercy, grace and kindness. Now treat othes the same." Now, you may ask... "who needs mercy, grace and kindness the most?" it's simple... THE POOR.

THE WAY WE TREAT THE POOR, IS THE WAY GOD WILL TREAT US. If we don't listen to the poor's cry, what makes you think He will listen to you? If we don't bless them with what we have allready been so richly blessed with, what on earth makes us think He will bless us??

Thank you for your time,

Andi Hopkins

Joshua Ballard

In Andrews post, I can't help but feel marginalized as a "rich" person. As if God doesn't care for me as a non-financially poor person. Perhaps I should give it all away, and then Jesus could love me and spend time with me.

PFFT...You seem to forget Jesus' interaction with Nicodemus (The Pharisee), Joseph of Arimathea (of the Sanhedrin Council) The Roman Centurion, Zaccheus the Tax Collector, The Prostitute whose perfume was worth a Years wages...should I continue?

Jesus does care for the poor, but quite frankly...he reminds us that life does not consist in material things. Abundance of things or in lack of things. The last theology I want to see is a Christianity that rejects the financially well off, simply because they have money, and forget that the wealthy are often the most psychologically poor people on the planet. Highest rates of Suicide in the world are not in these African Nations, but in the "Wealthy" west.

You gotta stop thinking about the money. Jesus was not affirming the state of the poor when he incarnated, he was rejecting the whole conception of life being associated with monetary concerns. Poverty is connected to this, and even IF financial poverty was wiped away, who would the focus then shift to? The socially poor? The medically poor? The unhappily poor? Well it's all quite relative isn't it?

Minister to the poor, minister to the rich, hell, why make a distinction? Live generous lives that are generous THROUGH the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I was witnessing to a Somalian refugee Muslim, who said to me, and I am quoting him: "If we lived in the same house our whole lives and you never told me about your Jesus, and if I never told you about Allah, then when we die...we are responsible for each other...if you are right, or I am right.

He didn't care about whether or not I gave him far as he was concerned it was all "In'sha Allah" (in the will of God) whether or not he had money. In fact, his own generosity towards me in paying for my coffee spoke to me. If he could do that, then how much more should I be generous as an Heir of God? But I don't want to make the mistake of marginalising the "rich" who are infact some of the poorest people I know.

It is my multi-millionaire business owner friend who can't keep himself out of the brothels because he is so relationally broken that he can't sustain a relationship with a girlfriend, let alone a wife. The tragedy is that he can afford to spend every night at those places if he wants to. Being unable to maintain relationship with his daughter because of the inability to reasonably and charitably communicate with her mother.

If he went broke tomorrow...without the ministry of the gospel, he would kill himself. I know the guy well enough to be able to say that.

Point of the story. Don't forget the rich when we talk about ministry to the poor. Jesus died to potentially save EVERYONE. Let's actually act like it.

There is no slave nor free...we are all one in Jesus.

Warren Richardson

Poverty…What can I do?

I’m not going to try to come up with a all encompassing theory that will change all the poverty in the world…As far as I can tell plenty of people have already tried this and the components of the equation are to variable. So I’m going to concentrate on the one component that I can have an influence over…Myself.
In Micah 6; 8, what the Lord requires of me,
“To act justly, love mercy and walk humbly” with Him as my Lord and guide and in doing this I can have an impact on the lives around me. Mother Teresa said, “ all that is required is to love all”, very simple, see a need and attend to it. If I do this in my life to one person a week, a feasible task I think for myself, then I will have impacted 52 people in a year and so on ….
For me to release the God given compassion in my life to others is a simple task, I give of myself in the same simple ways that mother Teresa talks about, be it my prayers for another, my time to fix or repair something for someone else, my small financial gifts to benefit others, my concerns for “ the Orphans, widows and lonely”
‘But all of this amounts to nothing in the whole scheme of poverty in the world’, Yes you could be right, but the benefit is felt very close to home for me, it is my friends and the people that I have put myself out for in small ways, even the ones I don’t know.
If each one of us looks out for a chance to impact one person a week in a small way and then in turn they look out for someone to show love and compassion to then as we all know … There will be a lot more people who will look out for the next person to share love and blessings to.
There is nothing new here for most people, the hardest part is to actually push our self’s to DO IT! “To act justly, love mercy and walk humbly” to

“Simply do what is Simple”

Chris Morrison

I think in addition to our dualistic anthropology and narrow definition of evangelism the contemporary church has been leavened by the materialism of the world.
Tony Campolo is scathing in his criticism of this ecclesial materialism in many of his books particularly the opulence of many church buildings in the face of the abject poverty evident even in the immediate community of many of these churches as well as that seen all over the world.
Perhaps another grain of secular yeast that is leavening the loaf of contemporary ecclesial social outreach is the western emphasis on a laissez-faire approach to world economies that plainly favours the rich over the poor. This laissez-faire view of poverty is plainly ambivalent to the obvious inability of the poor to get ahead, particularly when burdened down with third-world debt. I pray that the church would never forget that we also as sinners had fallen into debt that we too were powerless to repay. I pray that the christian west can extend the hand of compassion that Christ himself extended to us and cancel third-world debt and free the third-world to walk with the west in economic equality.

David McAuley

I agree with Shane’s comments that “maybe we have misread the message of the gospel of Jesus.” Unfortunately, some Pentecostal churches are so caught up in “Self and Prosperity” that they fail to see “People and Poverty.” Even worse, they do see “People and Poverty” but don’t feel a need to react to this. How can any church claim to know Jesus, while at the same time, failing to react to his message?

Third world debt, hunger and poverty continue to worsen, and our planet is being destroyed. In 2005 the United Nations Development Report stated that more than “ten million children die each year before the age of five, and more than 98 percent of these live in poor countries.” As Shane Clifton points out, “they die because of where they were born.”

Let’s not forget, Jesus left the safety and comfort of Heaven, emptied Himself of glory and humbled Himself to serve. He became weak and vulnerable. He “proclaimed the good news of the Kingdom of God, but demonstrated its arrival by healing the sick, feeding the hungry, forgiving the sinful, befriending the dropouts and raising the dead.” Jesus did not come to be served but to serve (Matthew 20:28) and lived a corporate life among God’s chosen people and He saw their every need.

My first direct encounter with prosperity teaching came earlier this year, when I arrived in Australia. I was alarmed by what I heard and saw. Almost one year on, and I’m still as alarmed as ever. But what can I (one person) do? Well that’s simple; firstly, like Sarah Jane Lancaster, I can see and help the poor, not just the financially poor but the spiritually poor as well. (Good word Joshua!) Secondly, I can ensure by daily prayer and readings that I don’t fall into the prosperity gospel trap, of putting “Self and Prosperity” before God’s creation. Finally, I can remind the church that true compassion requires us to see everyone as humans created in the image of God. (Genesis 1:27)

Jesus’ ministry was about Kerygma (proclamation) and diakonia, (service) and as followers of Christ we, the church, are called to proclaim and serve.

Kate Tennikoff

A couple of weeks ago I got chatting with a little old lady at the train station on my way to work. She was talking about her family and how she was heading off to her grandson’s birthday party that day. In the course of the conversation we got onto the “important things in life”. She mentioned, how she and her husband had worked…for so many years, to pay off their house. Yet now that she finds that in her ‘twilight years’, “it doesn’t seem like much”. In the end, “it’s people that REALLY matter”. Whilst I have certainly heard similar things at church, I always find the perspective of the elderly intriguing. As a result, that little old lady’s comments have stuck with me since that day.

No matter how much we accumulate, I think we would agree that at the end of the day, it won’t really “seem like much”. It won’t be important. In the end what will matter is whether we have fed and clothed the poor, and loved those less fortunate than ourselves. (Both the financially destitute, as well as those like Joshua’s billionaire-friend).

With this in mind, when I read the statistics on world poverty it first of all challenges me about where my money is going. Does God want to bless me? Sure, He’s my Father. Am I already blessed? Absolutely! Now what about the rest of His children that He wants to bless through me?

Perhaps we would do well to consider that there might be an element of truth in the critique that secular society sometimes has of the Church. Are we as the Church just after people’s money to establish a name for ourselves? It’s worth a thought. It’s always good to search our hearts and motives (since… at least mine have a habit of being notoriously selfish). I guess that the phrase “blessed to be a blessing” sums it up for me. As Paul mentioned “The question of ‘what will grow our church?’ is been thrown around a lot, probably much more than the question ‘What will bless our community?’”

I certainly can’t see how taking a vow of poverty is going to help anyone. Yet if we use our resource wisely and creatively, there is potential to help many. As Deborah commented “I wonder what would happen if our churches made deliberate action to think globally? “Gosh what an exciting thought. And yet I am still not sure exactly what that looks like.

Certainly giving through sponsor-child programs is one way to help, as well as being aware of fair-trade organizations like Oxfam. Yet I think there is so much more we could do if we work together. As Stephen suggested, we need to think outside the box, “not in the traditional way we have done it in the past.”

Anna B Chandra

This is indeed a challenging subject and I do agree with Shane that we might have “misread the message of the gospel of Jesus, and failed to follow His model and pursue His mission.”

There is so much more we can do, because the gospel of Jesus is not just a gospel of words, but of power! We are all called to make a difference in this world, extending our prosperity and reaching out to those in need. Our mission is both social and spiritual, full stop. As Kate mentioned, the problem lies in our motives. We can therefore in other words say that the problem is the pursuit, not the wealth. I believe we are blessed to be a blessing and let us all realize that we cannot help the poor with just giving money… (Mother Theresa) There is so much more to it. I believe that education equals freedom.

Let us live with a focus on others.

Andrew Rumende

Reading on this specific issue made me think that I might be one of the people who have been ignoring the poor. As part of the Church of God we have to ask that question to ourselves, have we been ignoring poor people?
We must see poor people with the same glasses as we see the rich and wealthy people, in fact they are all created in the same image of God, so why should we treat the poor different from the rich?

Let’s not condemn other people or “big” churches on their policy/mission statement towards the poor and needy. I agree with what Warren said, we must start from our self, re-evaluate ourselves. What have we done in helping the poor out from their poverty?

Coming from the third world country background, it is a normal daily scene meeting up with the poor, many of them are still young children. I am really sure that western people would definitely be really compassionate and wouldn’t think twice to grab some money from their wallet and give it to them. In fact that is what every one’s reaction towards a beggar/the poor, especially when we are facing with poor children.
I totally agree with Anna that by giving money will not stop the problem of poverty on the earth. Because I believe poverty comes from the mind set, the attitude towards life and future. How many of them have the access to education or knowledge that can bring them out of poverty. I think the Church of God should reconsider in breaking this chain of poverty by transforming their mindsets and feeding them with education, knowledge in sustaining life. Through this mission, the act of evangelism could also be released at the same time. I can say that it is the Church’s responsibilities in creating a strong healthy (not necessarily wealthy) community.

Michael Bingham

Compassion:'Change the world - Sponsor a Child'... we all see it - but how many of us actually do anything about it?
"Sponsoring children is a strategic way you can releae families from spiritual, economic, social, physical and emotional poverty.
Working in partnership with the local church, your sponsorship enables children to recieve food, an education, health care and the good news that Jesus loves them.
We recognise that children do not live in isolation, that is why every compassion project includes initiatives that provide other direct and indirect help to families such as parent education, clean ewater and income-generating activities.
For a little over a dollar a day, you can have an eternal impact on one child, and through that one child, influence their community and nation"
In response to the reading, it is true that the church has made many mistakes in the past and im sure will still make more... but we have come a long way! There aren't many churches these days that don't actively support missionaries, sponsor children, go on missions... If anything, the church has made more ground in eleviating poverty than any other constitution.

jared shaw

kate's post is great. i too find within myself a fairly selfish heart at the best of times... its a bit of a daily fight to make sure other people stay at the forefront of my mind, and so is a perspective that keeps poor people there too. i live in a comfortable suburb, that my parents have worked hard to keep us living in, and i rarely am confronted with 'the poor'. yet there are people in my daily life that have financial problems, just as people have health problems and relationshipos problems. i CAN act globally, and SHOULD. yet i endeavour to make sure the people in my world too are held in the highest priority. like the little old lady realises... its people that REALLY matter. well put.

Maneesha Antony

I totally agree that the church especially the Pentecostal church has ignored the poor - they might not do it intentionally but unfortunately they are because of the fact of prosperity doctrine. G'ive more so that you can be blessed.' Prosperity doctrine has to do with 'me' and not about them. If 'you' have faith then 'you' will be blessed abundantly.

I believe the church has been called to help the poor. It may not be the full responsibility of the church to provide for the poor but we as examples of Christ to our communities need to portray the importance of giving not for our benefit but for their benefit. There are many scriptures to back up this statement such as Isaiah 58 which shows that we need to give food to the hunger, shelter for the homeless, clothe the poor. When we do this we will be humble and have the right heart which God seeks. Yes this statement is about 'us' but its the attitude behind it - thinking about others.

But with this all said I have to admit that the AOG church has been shifting to this topic and recognising the need to support the poor and bringforth justice. It is a phase that we are going through and I know until we get a hold of this and do something about it, this issue will not go away quickly.

Georgena Atallah

Like David and Shane brilliantly pointed out, I too believe we have misread the message of the gospel of Jesus. I was sitting in a church planting class when we were divided in groups. We were given a hypothetical church plant scenario and our task was to identify our target group. Before I go on, I have to confess I had just come from Shane’s lecture on ‘Wealth and Poverty,’ deeply moved and challenged. I stood before the group, boldly and passionately advocated that our mission should be to the poor. I had got everyone’s attention; our ‘target group’ plan began to unfold. After a few minutes the comment came, “we shouldn’t target the poor, but the rich!” He went on further to say, who will finance the church? Who will finance the money needed to reach the poor? And so forth. The group was quickly swayed and our target group went from reaching out to the poor to other groups capable of bringing in an income. While I understand the logic of their argument, I still can’t help but feel ashamed. While I understand the importance of an autonomous income being sewed into the life of a church, I felt a groan deep within me and couldn’t help but wonder “what happened to faith?”

Like all westerners I must testify, I enjoy a life of abundance. By that, I do not necessarily mean I am well off financially, but I am content and I do have the luxury of having all my basic needs met. I have enjoyed the benefits of education both secondary and territory, I drive a nice care and live in a comfortable house. Like most Christians (even the ones in my church planting class) I am passionate about Jesus, His person and vocation. The bible refers to us, the redeemed, sanctified and justified, on many occasions as being living representatives of God, ambassadors and administers. While the church has different doctrines on wealth and poverty and while I see both the implicit and explicit benefits and implications of them all, I can’t help but still feel helpless.

Many of us feel helpless, the need is great and the willingness of those willing to respond is few (in light of poverty today). So what is the most appropriate response or course of action for the church in helping the poor? I proclaim the life of a Christian is based on faith, by faith we have been saved, by faith we believe in Jesus, by faith we believe in the bible and by faith we believe we can make a difference. I disagree with the implicit view of the prosperity doctrine that affirms some are just called to finance the kingdom while others are chosen to go out and change it. I affirm, in light of the ministry of Jesus, the target of any church should be the down cast of society, the poor in spirit (just because someone is financially stable it does not imply they are happy) and downtrodden and this includes the poor.

Hillsong has definitely made great attempts to set the stage on addressing the problem of world poverty. The launch of Compassion and the work of Hillsong in the area of countries like Uganda and Rwanda has had a significant impact in the area of poverty. The devastation of world poverty seems so huge, yet through organisations like Compassion individuals everywhere have the opportunity to make a difference. My point is the church has begun to take responsibility and what initially seems so insignificant to westerners like us, is significant to thousands of children that are sponsored through Compassion. The stage has been set and my prayer is many more churches and Christians, like Hillsong begin to take an active involvement in addressing the issue of world poverty, even if it is just one child at a time.

Sione Ma'ake

Why has the Church ignored the poor?

Shane was absolutely right about the ministry and the responsibility of the Church to the poor. This morning it was announced that Mr. Costello and Bonno will discuss the world poverty; politician and artist join hand in hand to address this issue. What about us?

This is my own definition of poor as a Christian.

P. Personal
O. Offering
O. Over
R. Responsibility

The disciples were also concerned about the poor, but the problem is, they want to give something that has been given to the Lord.

Why don’t we just dig deep into our own pocket and fulfill our own words starting from me, but, sorry guys it will have to go to Tonga first.

God Bless

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