A Church for the Poor
'I would heartily recommend this book to any church leader who wants their church to bring whole life transformation to people living in poverty'
A Church for the Poor
By Martin Charlesworth and Natalie Williams
David C Cook
Reviewed by Rosa Hunt
Every so often I come across a book which grips me from the opening premise to the closing paragraph, and the reading of which is accompanied by regular cries of “Yes!” and “Exactly!” For me, this was one such book.
The authors present a compelling argument that Jesus intended His church to be one which reaches out to the poor, and offers them not only practical help but also whole life transformation as disciples of Jesus. Unfortunately, the wealth of statistics cited by the authors show that the church in Britain is failing to do this.
This book caught my attention for three reasons. Firstly, it is very informative: it provided an up-to-date analysis of economic factors which helped me understand why over the last five years I have been encountering more and more families who just aren’t making ends meet.
Secondly, it is intensely practical. It contains many helpful suggestions and insights into identifying the underlying assumptions in our church culture which might be putting off the very people we want to reach.
To take a simple example, I had noticed how reluctant many of the people in our area were to come to a meal at our house. The book mentions sharing a meal with other adults outside your family as a specific example of a cultural norm in certain middle class areas which is totally alien to people from other backgrounds. By challenging us to examine the composition of our worship group and service leaders, the timings of our meetings and even the nature of our coffee (instant or real?), the book invites us to examine whether our church structures need significant reform before they will allow people who are ‘not like us’ to feel welcome.
Finally, the book is hugely inspirational. The passion of the authors is contagious, and for those of us who have felt a call to serve Jesus in less prosperous areas, it was very much a case of deep calling to deep.
I would heartily recommend this book to any church leader who wants their church to bring whole life transformation to people living in poverty - and I would hope that that would mean all of us!
Rosa Hunt is minister of Salem Baptist Chapel in Tonteg, South Wales, and part-time tutor with South Wales Baptist College