Guest Blogger: (Part 2) Working with people who are already in a community for the sake of the gospel
Yesterday, I published the first part of this guest post about working with people who are already in a community without making them dependent on outsiders. The post was written by Jonathan who is currently living in a community and is watching what is happening among the people of that community when outsiders come in. Even the best of intentions can lead to problems of dependence. (See Part 1 at the link above for Jonathan’s description of his work in this community.)
Here is part 2 of our interaction:
Question (from Alan): Your situation does sound similar to many situations related to “foreign missionaries.” You said that the short termers “pay into the ministry.” What is this money used for? Why do you think “not very much local ministry is being raised up”? What do you think is causing that?
Answer (from Jonathan)
The local church plant cannot afford salaries for church positions. The summer programs and short terms pay for salaries, along with additional fundraising to keep things going. The pastor is pretty clear about what the money is for – no subterfuge at all. I’ve argued, are we ‘creating’ work for short termers to do – just for the money? The last time I brought this up, I was told we need to have a ‘long term’ conversation about that. Originally the church was NOT dependent on short termers, but was not told what changed.
A few non white leaders coordinate the short termers, but all the interns and the majority of short termers are white. The church is half white, poor, and the neighborhood is very poor. At first I didn’t think so, but now I believe there’s a dependence on the outside money; from leaders AND neighborhood members. The financial piece is troubling. Even if all the money and personel were non white, I still feel that 1 Theassalonains 4:11-12 should be followed.
Disturbingly in our city, New Orleans, I know of three other miniseries in poor neighborhoods all run by different organizations and denominations; this is the model. Outsiders come in, lead, fundraising activities, bring short termers in then… Show me how the people of the culture lead, and you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who grew up in that neighborhood or city; leading. Lack of Discipleship. My theory is the material needs in urban areas are so great that the educated folks began the programs and fundraising, but those become the idol.
Question: Do you have any suggestions as to how discipleship would help locals get involved in ministering to their >own neighbors without depending on outside help?
I think this is a tough one that takes time. IN the spiritual realm it’s a matter of showing someone that Christ is all sufficient but our tendency is to do program based things, which are needed (literacy, food, etc).
Currently my wife and I talk often about this as she’s away on sabbatical. When she returns, we plan reach out hospitality-wise. We’ve invited people to our home, but our perception is this may be a class hurdle (we got the nice house and they’re on subsidies attitude). So we’re trying to find ways to go to their home (i.e., playing with the kids, hanging out on their porch).
Clearly things have to be Holy Spirit led. It’s so hard to wait and hear from God when you see so many physical needs. We do address physical needs: food, (we have to be careful with) money, helping with errands, and medical emergencies.
We see things more relationally then programmatically. I don’t come from a simple gathering background but it seems applicable here. Follow the Holy Spirit, Build Small via relationships. I think it’s key to let myself and new disicples see that it’s God doing it and not a human person, ministry, or aid group.