Monday, August 08, 2005

I hope you do not become dumber for entertaining my questions.

I've got some questions, and they are probably really dumb. I hope you do not become dumber for entertaining my questions. But first some basic background...

During the summer I work with an organization called Young Neighbors in Action. It's kind of a Catholic version of Group Work Camps if you've heard of them. Anyhow, because of the job I get to see a lot of places in Chicago that normally I wouldn't. The job has put me in contact with a number of congregations that work with the poor, hungry, hurting and vunerable. As I came to each congregation I'd get to talk with the pastor or director of the outreach program. One question I always asked was what is the make up of the congregation? It was interesting to me that none of the congregations included the poor they were serving. Even when the congregation was poor itself there seemed to be a line drawn between those serving and those served. And I guess I don't understand why.

Is there some practical reason?- Are the poor too transient? Is it too hard to organize? (Dusty your sociology background may offer something here)

Is it just that one group doesn't want to include the other.

Wouldn't the poor and vulnerable be better off if we welcomed them as full and equal members of our congregations rather than just have them as our outreach projects? Are there any instances you know of where the homeless have been fully incorporated? Even the most amazing organizations I've encountered or heard stories of don't seem to do this, and it seems like a suppression of the person's dignity to me. On top of being invited to the soup kitchen, shouldn't the person be welcomed into the worship service? Am I wrong in thinking that way? Am I ignorant of some obvious answer? Is this post too long in the same way all my posts seem too long?


At 8/08/2005 10:43 PM, Blogger Dusty said...

Hey Adam...While my Sociology Background is profoundly amatuer, I know there is kind of theory more related to health, but could easily be connected to this type of thing. It is called the Doctor Roll and the Sick Role...I won't explain them in detail, as anyone who wanted to think it through a little bit could come up with a 90% accurate idea of the characteristics of either...However, I think a similar mindset is present in those offering charity and receiving it. There are roles to play in each and people typical struggle to be in both roles at the same time. As members of One Body, I agree that this mindset should be different...great insights Adam.


At 8/09/2005 9:37 AM, Blogger Jake Sikora said...

Hey Adam. We got into this a couple of times in my Theology of Evangelism class. Apparently this is a highly common occurence amongst at least the mainline protestant denominations represented at my seminary class. It seems as though the sense of service even amongst these congregations doing much service is still full of a me giving to you mentality that is not good at all. I'm not sure of many instances where this isn't the case.

At 8/09/2005 7:36 PM, Anonymous joey said...

Hi adam. I don't know you and I don't actually have an answer or anything but I have a suggestion. There is a book called "Theirs is the Kingdom: Celebrating the Gospel in Urban America" by Robert Lupton. First off it is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read and second he kind of covers this topic. I would explain what he says be he does a better job.

At 8/16/2005 2:47 AM, Anonymous Ryan L. said...

First, I second the recommendation of Theirs is the Kingdom. Second, I have a friend at the Seminary here who is the teaching pastor at an inner-city ministry that does a great job of this kind of thing. Their congregation is about twenty people who come every week and do a lot of service stuff. The other 40-60 people who come are homeless. My friend told me that this is an average because a lot of them travel around the city, so it's usually different people every week. Anyway, it's a pretty great congregation and ministry.


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