A Church for the Poor
Are you wondering how your church could more effectively address its mission to the poor?
A new book, A Church for the Poor from Jubilee+ seeks to move the conversation about the poor forward; beyond ideas to plans, beyond compassion to action, beyond projects to community, beyond helping the needy to sharing Christ with them, beyond theology to implementation, beyond culture to counter-culture.
Recent years have witnessed dramatic growth in churches across Britain finding ways to care for the poorest in their communities. Motivated by genuine concern, dedicated volunteers responded to the call to action and millions of pounds have been invested to support those most in need. However, the culture of many churches fails to attract those they are helping to the very faith that motivates this compassion. Even when people from poorer or working class backgrounds start on a journey of faith, many churches struggle to create an inclusive environment where they can feel welcomed and at home.
The book presents a vision of the church as a place where people from all sections of society can find a home and play a part. It is a call to rethink our traditions and transform the church to reach the poor in Britain today.
The book, which is woven with stories from the experiences of the authors, Martin Charlesworth and Natalie Williams, is in two halves. The first half, explores the current context of poverty in Britain today, biblical perspectives, church-based social action and barriers that need to be overcome to be truely a church for the poor. The second half deals with practicalities; knowing our calling, dealing with culture - both of social groups and of the Church itself, creating strategy to enable the poor to become a vital part of the community of the church. building key foundations e.g.practical care, building capacity and counting the cost.
Martin relates the story of taking up a teaching job in a secondary school in an unfamiliar area in the days before he became a church leader. They decided to join a new church which was a working class church. The area had a distinct vocabulary, accent, social history and sense of humour. There was a lot to learn. Although warmly received he and his wife were quickly aware they were cultural outsiders. Having someone attend with a degree was a novelty. They made some good friends and came to love the church. They learned a lot about culture and class. New vocabulary, new eating habits - tea and supper, preaching from heart to heart, church meetings which were more like extended family rather than programme-driven, front-led. The experience made Martin aware of the challenges that cultural outsiders can feel in a church and seek ways to help different social groups find a meaningful place in church especially how to build a church for the poor.
"This book is both inspiring and deeply practical. Pointing out the recent surge 'in church engagement with the poor', and reminding us that revival 'almost always starts with the poor', it observes that our churches remain largely middle class. But there's real encouragement here about the possibility of change and practical advice about how to bring it about." Rt. Hon. Stephen Timms MP.
The book can be bought from your normal bookseller. Here is the Amazon link.
The Jubilee+ 'Churches that Change Communities Conference'on Saturday 28th October 2017 in Cambridge will focus on becoming a church for the poor. More details here.
For research into Church for the Poor which informed the book, see the following articles on this site:
Hidden rules among classes
Church for the poor - 'poor focused' activities
Church of the poor - the barrier of middle class church
Church for the poor - strategies to engage people experiencing poverty
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