As I've reported here before, there are two things that irk me about the current push of many evangelical churches, epseically the younger ones. The first irksome thing is replacing the Christian center of the cross and atonement with the Liberal Protestant gospel of helping the poor. This isn't about NOT helping the poor. This is about what the center of the gospel should be. Like the proverbial horse and cart, helping the poor as the center, and the atonement as either an afterthought, or worse, no thought at all, is like putting the cart in front of the horse and asking the horse to push it instead of pulling it. Helping the poor should be an outcome (i.e. in sanctification) of the atonement, not something replacing it.
The second irksome thing to me is the vagueness of all the "helping the poor teaching." I've written here that too many Christian leaders do not understand how to really empower the poor; they want to regulate them, often with a "hit-and-run" approach. And, they often do not include the poor as equal, or even main voice in decision making. The other day, I reviewed a book that actually teaches Christians how to cooperate with and empower the poor. You can read that post here.
Today I want to review an article I read in this month's (Sept. 2009) issue of Christianity Today magazine. The article is entitled, "More Than Profit: A Business Plan with a Divine Edge has an Angle on Fighting Poverty."
On Wednesday mornings several women in the Philippines gather together for prayer, singing and a Bible study. Afterwards they discuss their small (mostly small stall retail-type) businesses. They make microloans, encourage each other and have teachings on sound business practices. Notice that no missionaries or church leaders are involved although it could be that churches are supportive in vaious ways. No westerners are going in on a short-term missionary activity and giving people money, erecting and fixing buildings, and then leaving. What the book and article talks about is the type of organizational structure and activity I want churches to start talking about. How can we cooperate with the natives, but allow them to take the lead and (at least eventually) make the important decisions. How can we halp them organize? Can we begin the teaching of good business practices and then eventually they will take over? Can we help them solve other problems, BUT with them actually doing it, rather than sitting around watching us do it? Good things to think about and a good direction to go in IMO.
A Place to Fail
2 weeks ago