Wednesday, February 05, 2014

This week's lesson: discipling the "ordinary"

Blessed are the poor.

But they don't stay poor.

As sociologists love to point out, the Adventist church is a powerful engine of social mobility.
  • It attracts "marginal" people -- sharecroppers and immigrants.  
  • It teaches thrift, encourages education, and stops the drinking that causes so many problems. 
  •  And that's why those sharecroppers and immigrants go on to have children who are teachers, nurses, and pastors . . . and grandchildren who are doctors, lawyers, and concert pianists.
Or as one of my teachers put it, "We attract poor Baptists, and we turn them into rich Episcopalians."

Obviously, this can create problems for all those wealthy, educated Adventist who no longer feel at home in their grandparents' church.

But this can also lead to a church where the poor and marginalized no longer feel at home.
  • That's one of the reasons early Methodists didn't wear jewelry; they didn't want people who couldn't afford "bling" to feel out of place in their churches.
  • That's one of the reasons Ellen White counseled against "high-falutin" music in our churches; she didn't want people with more common tastes to feel out of place in our churches.
  • And that's one of the reasons my church tries to put a variety of people on the platform (and doesn't include titles such as "Dr." and "Professor" in the bulletin); we want people to see that we are a church for all kinds of people.
You see, churches can be a blessing to the poor.
But we need to make sure they stay blessed.

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