11 Responses

  1. Tamara Rice
    Tamara Rice November 18, 2013 at 11:31 AM |

    I cannot even express how much I appreciate this. You are so absolutely spot on. I have seen how filling a Christian leadership board (church or parachurch) with the wealthy corrupts absolutely. A Christian ministry I cared deeply about placed a millionairess (funny word) on their board, pretty much because of her donations. (In fact, at one point, donating a specific dollar amount was a requirement for participation on the board–which is a horrifying but common way to choose leadership.) We watched in dismay as she altered lives and altered the future of the organization with the power her money gave her–the power the organization gave her by bowing to her and placing too much value on her money. It was heartbreaking. I pray churches and parachurch organization will take your advice and actively seek the voice and leadership of the poor and humble. We have much to learn from the marginalized and those who do not enjoy privilege and power.

  2. juliahsc
    juliahsc November 18, 2013 at 12:44 PM |

    Hmm. There does tend to be this underlying assumption that 1 Tim 3:1-10 (qualifications of a deacon) means that you are higher income earner rather than a low-income earner. You’re right—we should examine these assumptions carefully and trace whether our definitions of being “above reproach” or “having a good reputation with outsiders” are cultural or scriptural.

  3. between worlds
    between worlds November 18, 2013 at 10:48 PM |

    I have thought about this for a long time, and frankly have been stuck as to how to go about even understanding and approaching class divides. Thanks for writing this – it’s very helpful!

  4. Peter W. Chin (@peterwchin)
    Peter W. Chin (@peterwchin) November 19, 2013 at 8:42 AM |

    thanks for this, christena. this issue just came up at my church, and it is VERY knotty. we are in the inner city, and have people who are in financial need in our congregation. we want to help fulfill those needs whenever possible. and yet we don’t want to isolate those individuals or give the sense that they are not full members of our community and just charity cases. the question is how to strike that balance. moreover, i realized that even the means by which we strike that balance have to be weighed carefully. for instance, one could ensure that the poor are not put on the spot by not providing for them, but that seems like a case of the cure being worse than the disease. and to make things even more complicated is that in the city, churches have always been seen as a place where you go if you have needs. so often, it’s not just churches who see people as needy – often people see themselves in that light, and the church as a place where that need should be addressed. not saying this to discourage the conversation at all, but just that we might be aware of how complicated the issue truly is!

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  6. Josh Davis
    Josh Davis November 23, 2013 at 9:17 AM |

    Thank you so much for this post, Christena. I am a full-time Christian minister who lives under the poverty line. I find that most churches/ministries don’t think about how our systems and structures exclude people who don’t have disposable income. There have been many times my family has not been able to attend a $10/family church supper, for example. (It is of course possible to take our own food, and still enjoy the fellowship, but answering those questions can be challenging. Or, I have even gone to lunch meetings for ministers and not eaten, in order to still participate.) We have found also that we can’t afford to drive long distances to meetings, etc. because our gas budget is very limited. Thank you for bringing this to the attention of leaders and planners.

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