Tonight I went to the FRWY in Hamilton, a church that I’m growing to love more and more every time that I spend time with them. There was a panel discussion tonight and they were talking about the neighborhood where they are in that is rated the third most poverty-sicken neighborhoods in Canada. In talking and listening to the panel speakers talk about how we should approach it and why they think that although millions of dollars are thrown into this neighborhood it still remains like it is, with seemingly no hope for change.
One of the questions was why they thought that the neighborhood wasn’t changing and what they think it will take to actually help it. This is a great question. This is the question that we all really should be asking ourselves about every poverty stricken area and person in the world. As Christ-followers this should be our first priority: to help redeem and make whole that which or who is broken and in need. It was interesting though that the government has poured millions of dollars into this neighborhood and there has been no sign of change. It’s like they are trying to buy wholeness; buy freedom. Consumerism is at its finest when we think that we can buy people back out of poverty. For some reason, I think it’s a bigger problem than a lack of money that keeps places like this the way they are.
This brand of consumerism has found itself rooted deeply within the church also. How many of us have thrown money in an offering plate for a missions team or sponsored a child? These are all great things. After a while though, don’t you think it just becomes yet one more thing we consume? It’s like we act like the government and we think that just sending money or giving money to people is fixing the problem, or is taking care of our part. I’m not discouraging anyone from giving money, or sponsoring children or participating in canned food drives, these are all necessary. I am discouraging against our consumer mindset that we can just buy out our job of taking care of the poor and loving the widows by throwing money at them. We like to throw money at everything and think it will go away or we will get what we want. So we throw money in the plate thinking that we are doing our part. If we don’t have money, we don’t feel guilty at all, as if the ratio of money in pocket to money we give to pour people equals spiritual maturity.
We can’t buy our way into following Christ. People in poverty don’t just need our money. They need something bigger than money, our love and our hospitality. Don’t stop giving your money; I’m just saying it’s not enough. We need to give of ourselves. These people need to know that they can come to you when they need help, someone to talk to or someone to lean on. Hiding in our private homes isn’t following Christ. Inviting these people that we would never in a million years interact with on normal terms into our private homes and spending time with them over a meal seems more like following Christ. It’s hard, its uncomfortable, its vulnerable, time consuming but it’s the way of Christ and the way of Christ is the only fulfilling way to live.
4 thoughts on “Paying to Follow Christ”
I agree with you, Nathan. The cool thing about the panel talk was that that was the message: we need to offer deep community over the long haul. Not money. The gospel being lived out in our neighbourhood. By us. each of us, doing waht we can. Together.
It was great to hang out with you this weekend. Hope to see you soon.
You should come this week if you’re in town, because we will be exploring the idea of hospitality as it relates to all of this.
Nathan my friend,
Perhaps I can fly you out to Vancouver this weekend so you can expand on that for our church’s AGM??? ;)
What you shared about is something that I’ve been trying to get my mind around for several days, even weeks, now. The Church I’m serving at is doing all of their budget stuff for the year and they think that just throwing money at the youth ministry will bring kids to Christ and keep them in the church until they retire. Rather than even trying to learn a kid’s name, they’d rather just give us their pop bottles so we can collect the money from them (yes, we do that in BC). I think a sober wake-up call from someone outside their usual setting would be beneficial, but we’ll see what happens I guess.
BTW, I’m a constant lurker on your blog but I rarely post. Hope all is well in North York and I’ll see you guys in May or June for sure.
I made a link to you from my blog, because I think its a great site, hope that’s ok!
So is that what was discussed at the meeting? I’m just curious, what was the outcome? Are they going to invite them into their homes?
Also, you said the government poured ‘millions’ into the neighborhood, where exactly did that money go?
peace out playa