May 31, 2016

How Can Wealthier Churches Help Churches in Poorer Neighbourhoods with Fewer Resources

This is the fifth part of a longer conversation on the topic of race and class. Check out part 1, 2, 3 and 4 here.

In this video, Mez McConnell, Ian Williamson and Sung Kim talk about how richer churches can help churches in poorer neighbourhoods with less resources?

Video Transcript

Mez: So here's a geezer, right? He's got a few quid. He's got a church that's got a bit of a tickle, it's got some money, And he's genuinely asking – I'm really glad you asked the question – is... "We realise we're far away from this situation, how do we get there?" What's your answer to him?

Ian: How do we get there in helping someone like myself, or as their church changing...?

Mez: Both!

Ian: I think the first thing that helps somebody in my position... we already have a temptation to assimilate, cause for me – this is where I get emotional...

Mez: If you cry, I'm stopping the camera!

Ian: No, but seriously, always feeling you were never good enough and you've got to reach that bar, and then you get an opportunity, and then you're along people. So for me, I was seeking that approval. That certain organisations or people would accept me, to give me validation, but that validation comes from God, and I think teaching – I don't know – helping, not expecting us to reach approval, our methods may be different, our methods might be risky, our methods might be seen wasteful when we're pouring £1000s over 2 years into somebody who might just walk off and become a heroin addict once again, but without that freedom to develop our ministries then we're just going to have the status quo, we’re going to continue to have working class people replicating middle class work and just putting me... and I was invited to a church to pastor a middle class church to reach the housing estates of this area and what they wanted me was to be a face and a puppet that was controlled by the elders who were very middle class. So basically, I was the token working class guy and I almost took that because I wanted to be in ministry but after consultation with my wife and praying, I knew I would never be happy and it would never work. So we need to have the freedom to be who God created us to be. And I think it's interesting you talk about justice... people who are keen about justice, when they realise for us to be just, there's a cost, isn't there, because we all want to be just until it costs us something and we have to give up our time to spend with people who are hard work, we're going to invite people into our lives, to train people who are going to let us down, who are going to hurt us, who are different to us, who are a risk. And it's good we can get angry when we see something unjust, but when we're given the opportunity to change that it's different to being angry, isn't it?

Sung: Yeah, and the thing is, even in our context, it's no different, except the way we seek approval is through our credentials, is through our careers, is through our status. It's the very same thing,, deep down in the human heart, it's that same longing for approval, justification, and again, even with what you're saying about justice, right, I think the sense of... a lot of times it's so to... cause again, it's pretty trendy to be involved in acts of justice, but justice or righteousness comes from being a person of righteousness, right, that just flows out of you, and so many times it's just easier to be like, 'Yeah, you know, I'm for justice, I’m just going to go and go to the scheme and help out, and I've done my thing, I’ve eased my guilty conscience and now I can go back to the way I live my life!' And so that's a bridge that needs to be connected there.

Ian: I'm guilty of it as well. We can all see pictures, or a video, and have our heart strings pulled and think: 'Aw I want to send that guy £20 to help this problem!' and then go back and eat my parmo, and watch TV with my feet up, but – if people want to send me £20 a month, I'll take it, you know what I mean – but that's going to help me temporarily, but it's not going to help the cause long term is it, until we're actually sacrificing and working alongside and living alongside each other. That's going to create diversity.