Ekklesia reports that the campaign "Faith in Action" begun by World
Vision is recommending that churches cancel some worship services for
the purpose of serving the poor.
Is this really the best response?
Should we cancel church services in order to serve the poor? If we do
this, in my opinion, then we are perpetuating the cycle of the poor.
The major problem of the poor is the seperation, isolation and
dehumanization that takes place when the middle class connect with the
poor. As long as we react to the poor with pity (often labeled
"compassion") and with service from one's arm's length, then the cycle
of poverty will continue. As long as we see the poor as the "other"
that we have to reach out to, then we will never see the poor as
"us." If we do not see the poor as "us" then the divide between the
ruling middle class and the poor will never be breached.
Rather than cancel our services, we need to have a reformation of our
services. We need to make our services less focused on the middle
class and their values and instead make them reflective of the values
of the working poor. We need to stop having offerings at the center
of our services. We need to find ways to welcome the poor. We need
to teach in our sermons not to use language or to have attitudes that
disrespect the poor.
James said that we are not following the law of Jesus if we disrespect
the poor. But in focusing on the middle class values and dreams in
our worship and sermons, we are asking the "rich man" to sit in the
best place and telling the "poor man" to "sit at my feet."
Our churches have disrespected the poor. How can our worship better
welcome the lower classes?