Tuesday, November 13, 2007

the church of jesus and global poverty: eight reflections

1. Christianity is predominately a southern hemispheric phenomenon; the center of gravity is no longer in Western Europe and the U.S., but in Africa. As Philip Jenkins (The Next Christendom) has noted, the average Christian in the world is likely to be a poor African.

2. The empirical reality of poverty and suffering in the world can no longer be avoided. The co-existence of the church alongside massive and growing poverty calls into question the integrity of the church and its faithfulness to the gospel.

3. The church is deeply implicated in a market economy that benefits from and leads to economic suffering for large numbers of people. The effects of globalization are powerful, and the church must examine the ways in which it mirrors the patterns and assumptions of the world.

4. The market economy is in conflict with the Wesleyan ethos of grace. We must examine the ways in which our practices (fair trade, table fellowship, hospitality) might redeem human life; how our congregations might bear witness, and how our conference bodies might participate might shape national and transnational efforts on behalf of life. This political work must be non-partison (as with the Millenium Development Goals).

5. Our structures need to serve the mission, particularly the mission of decreasing the disparities between rich and poor. As a connectional church, we must also ask if the connection is primarily political or ecclesial. Are we a communion or a federation of churches? Can our structures become more spiritual and biblical, and less political and juridicial?

6. What does covenant mean for those who are members of the One Body of Christ across this planet? Is covenant a sufficiently powerful concept to trump American individualism, as expressed in matters of sexual freedom (on the political left) or economic freedom (on the political right)?

7. How can the church of the global north learn from the church of the global south? How can an institutional church become more missional?

8. The chasm between rich and poor is clearly one of judgment in the gospel (see Luke 16. 19ff., the rich man and Lazarus). The chasm is lessened by the actions of human beings, and the call to the church is an essential element in this response. To whom much is given, Jesus teaches, much will be required.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Know this has nothing to do with your post but my I just watched the UNC and Davidson basketball game---UNC just about got upset.

As long was they are not playing Duke, I am an UNC fan

6:28 PM  

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