the church and the poor

"The Church & the Poor" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward
“The Church & the Poor” cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward


The church began poor. It didn’t give to the poor. It supported the poor as poor.

Then it got rich. It uses a fraction of its money to help the poor. But now it’s afraid of losing the comfortable life it worked so hard to achieve. It gives cautiously.

But worse, the church often creates and perpetuates poverty.

The church never wants to be poor again, even though this is where its true power resides.

This cartoon was inspired by an article from Chris Hedges, The Suicide of the Liberal Church. It better explains what I mean.

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6 Replies to “the church and the poor”

  1. Oh boy this is a tough one.

    I Glasgow here in Scotland in the 1860’s the minister of Cambridge Street United Presbyterian Church in Glasgow led wealthy merchants and manufacturers to a more palatial church in the west end, a scribe chalked on the door of the new building on the opening day:

    “This Church is not built for the poor and needy,
    But for the rich and Dr. Eadie.
    The rich may come in and take their seat,
    But the poor must go to Cambridge Street.”

    The abandonment of the church in the city centre gave rise to secularism among the poor as needs were not met by the church. The were some exceptions with Naismith and the fist city mission in Glasgow.

    However it is true, the location of many church plants are in wealthy areas and therefore Christians for a large part coming form polite middle class families.

    I am reminded of what Jesus said about the purest form of religion being taking care of the most vulnerable of society with widows and orphans and to keep from being polluted by evil, in this case the love of money over meeting the needs of the poor. I guess things have always been this was and we are naturally inclined to meet out own comfort.

    Thank you for this reminder David and challenge to make a difference.

  2. Adam: thank you for that history.

    It is easy to abandon whatever makes us uncomfortable.

    I think it is also natural to abandon what makes us uncomfortable.

    A friend of mine was part of several churches. At each one, he would meet with the pastor, and ask for their ‘list of widows and orphans’ that they support or assist.

    He said not even one church had any such list, at all.

    Not one.

  3. You are welcome Caryn.

    I would affirm what you say about ease /natural and discomfort.

    What I have learned about ego is it’s needed for survival but attaches one to pleasure and inclines one to adversity to discomfort. So for all of us surrendering the ego to something else (in this case the needs of the poor) I would suggest requires doing what is harder and doesn’t come naturally.

    But then you would know with what you talk about care for ex service personnel perhaps rewards that come with serving them? Didn’t you say something about them living in the woods one time?

  4. Yes, Adam. For a time, Bonnie and I visited in the camps of homeless men and women in the woods. We took ingredients, and cooked in the camps. We believe that ‘listening’ is one of the strongest ways to show love.

  5. Yes “active listening” restoring / affirming the dignity of someone for being a human being – loving and powerful indeed.

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