Our passion at HELP is to partner and help leverage the local church to end poverty in their local area. We don’t want to focus on ending poverty as a para-church organization. We believe the local church is first and foremost called to be on the forefront of poverty alleviation. But there is a problem with needs to be addressed, so the local church can truly deal with the issues of glocal extreme poverty.
1. The local church takes the tithe and uses it on staff, buildings and programs. Therefore there are little to no resources left for the global poor. Basically, we give our crumbs to the poor while we use our wealth to feed consumer (come to me) Christianity.
2. The local church spends countless hours on planning for programs. Then, they spend countless hours running the programs. Again, the issue is simple, if we are so busy drawing people to us, we won’t have the necessary time to “go” into the world and serve the global poor. (When we serve the global poor, we will reach people with the gospel, the poor and wealthy)
3. The local church sometimes lacks the ability to teach its people that issues of poverty and serving the poor is not a “social” issues but rather a “gospel” issues. I would say most Christians in the West don’t see serving the poor through the lens of gospel and mission, but outreach and “works” based-ministry. We serve the poor for our own sake, rather than to be little Jesus’ to the least of these! We have to embrace that serving the poor is the heart of Jesus and it is the responsibility of His church–You and me!
4. The local church sometimes lacks the same passion that Jesus had. Much of what we do in the name of “reaching people” we do for ourselves. We want big crowds to stoke our egos, we want big budgets so we can enjoy the financial-freedom and not live on faith, we want to speak at conferences, write books and have lots of social media followers…Really, we want to feel important, and sometimes we become hell bent on success for our own personal gain.
5. Intelligent Advocacy: Yes, its cool to wear our social justice gear, we all want to Save Darfur, rescue child-soldiers et al, but few of us want to write a check, take a trip or get our hands dirty with real mission work. Basically, we are wanna-be Christians who seek the social cool, but refuse to act like Christ and sacrifice our time, money and life for those in Darfur, Burma or your local inner-city neighborhood, We talk a lot, listen to the right music, attend cool social justice events, but lack the ability to translate the advocacy into real-life action.
So, there you have it, five key issues that I think we all need to process and understand. Believe me, I see myself in all five of those areas, I’m guilty! But, I also refuse to allow myself to make excuses…Because I believe we will find Jesus when we choose to go the darkest places of the world, and bring light, love and HELP to the worlds poor. If you want to follow the path of Rabbi Jesus, he is going to take you to places that we don’t want to really go, require you to do things we don’t really want to do, and ask you to care about people, that we really don’t want to care about!