51 Churches

Sorry that it has been a while since I posted, but Amy, Alora, and I were visiting my family for most of last week, and I didn't feel like using my parents dial-up internet service. (It is horribly slow and frustrating.) Anyway, while eating at my Grandfather's house, I noticed a newspaper clipping on the refrigerator. The clipping was a "letter to the editor" from a man who was currently in a local jail. In the letter, the man explained that he was in jail because he had lost his job and was unable to pay child support. While he has been serving time, has been writing letters to different churches in order to ask them for prayer and advice. Yet, out of the 51 letters letters that he sent, only one pastor took the time to write him back. After thanking the pastor who responded to his letter, the man asked, "What has happened to our churches?" I believe the man has a very good question, though I am sure that many of the churches were unaware that the man tried to contact them. So, maybe the question should be "what has happened to pastors?" Although I realize that pastors can get very busy, this doesn't mean that they (or the churches) can ignore/neglect those who are seeking help.


LiuMai said...

Politics? Possibly. Maybe being busy got in the way of loving.

Rita said...

Speaking as someone who is the 'face' for the benevolence ministry of my church, I can say that the church (I speak for the church as an institution, not necessarily as a people) has been hands off in the 'social awareness' area for so long that it would be hard for a lot of churches to even know where to begin to help someone with any kind of real need. (Advice and prayer, I can't answer for. Honestly, we don't get a lot of those requests - they want money or food when they come to us.)

Our church works closely with United Way to help meet needs in our community. It seems the church has been so long estranged from their duty of helping those in need that the government has had to develop social programs to cover our jobs for us. And sadly, since churches are not the first place a family in need would turn anymore, I think the only thing we can do is to honor the established government aid organizations, and develop our own on a smaller level to support those that already exist. At least that's the only thing I see.

I'm rambling a lot. Given my heavy involvement in the "benevolence" ministry of our church, this is pretty close to my heart. I meet every person who comes in for help - the rude ones who lie about their situation so they can get more money, and the humble ones who sit in my office and cry because they're embarrassed for having to "beg". I see the faults in the "system", but I feel there's even more "fault" for doing nothing at all.

Eric said...

Rita, thanks for your comments. I believe that you were correct when you stated that a lot of churches do not even know where to begin in regard to responding to social issues. While most churches are very good about discussing and participating in the Great Commission, I believe we have failed to see that "social justice" is a way in which the Church shines as a light in the world. Or to put it another way: social action can be (and should be) a wonderful "apologetic" to the world.

I also think that you "hit the nail on the head" when you stated that "the government has had to develope social programs to cover our jobs for us." This is a sad reality, because this is not the role of government. I am all too familiar with this reality, because Amy and I had to have government assistance during her pregrancy. Although Amy and I worked multiple jobs, we did not have insurance, so we had to go to the government for help. Honestly, most churches either do not know how or chose not to respond in these type of situations.

Rita said...

I always meant to come back by and see what you said to my comment. But I promptly forgot everytime I tried to remember.

Anyway. Just wanted to acknowledge that I had read what you said. I'm glad we agree. ... but what to do now? :shrugs: If you figure it out, let me know.

How exciting that you and Amy are moving to Wake Forest! My best friend from high school is living up there now. She married Adam Langley and he's in seminary up there too. I think that would be a fun place to be at this stage in life. Like a college for you when you're married and have small kids. FUN!