information for transformational people

barrier 246Preaching to middle-class can hurt the poor

From a series of tweets by Timothy Isaiah Cho @tisaiahcho

I read these comments on twitter and thought there is some wisdom here if we want to be a church for all. I've attempted to extract some nuggets.

A good deal of the sermon applications & pew-talk is aimed at the middle class and this can be especially damaging for Christians who come from lower-income situations. Being able to preach carefully and pointedly to both is a sign of wise and contextual preaching.
Here are some examples:

  • Telling families barely surviving on welfare benefits that wanting a better life is a sign of ungodly discontentment and distrust in God's provision. 
  • Reassuring congregants that the discipleship resource, retreat, or event costs *only* such and such and is a *small* cost for growth.
  • Talking matter-of-factly about inheritance, having parents help with down payments, protecting investments, and insuring assets.
  • Shaming families who don't observe a sabbath rest, even though one or both parents may have to work on Sundays just to survive.
  • Assuming that people work overly hard only to "keep up with the Joneses" rather than to avoid being unable to pay the rent one day.
  • Assuming that families can just trim their budgets of superfluous wants when they can barely afford to buy second-hand clothing for their children.
  • Paint hospitality as something only people with big houses and deep pockets can do successfully.
  • Speak about mercy ministry recipients in patronizing ways when people in similar situations may be in your church. 
  • Speak of poverty exclusively as individual fault instead of systemic brokenness. 
  • Talking fatalistically about Providence, as though one's current situation is their lot in life that they should be grateful for.
  • Recommending too many books or resources to buy, as though everyone has a discretionary budget to do so.
  • Making people feel bad for not tithing and claiming that they're not trusting God when they're using the money to feed their children instead.
  • Assuming that people who live in certain neighbourhoods can afford to do so, when in fact they may be living in multi family situations or other living arrangements just to get by. 
  • Shaping discipleship and ministry off of white collar holiday and vacation schedules as though blue collar folks don't need to be ministered to as much. 
  • Shaming people for being in huge amounts of University loan debt when they were the first to go to University in their families.

These show the importance of language and context. Something to review with your teams?

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From a series of tweets by Timothy Isaiah Cho @tis, 08/01/2019

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