Friday, August 05, 2011

Poverty: The Church's Role, by Robby Butler

The Church has a strategic role in overcoming internal and external factors in poverty.

Internal Influences must be defeated through relational biblical discipleship:
  • Fatalism: Poverty is our destiny.
  • Hopelessness: Effort will prove unfruitful.
  • Laziness: Change is too much work.
  • Lies: God hates me and wants me to suffer.
  • Identity: I am a victim, inferior to others.
  • Addiction: I must numb my pain.
  • Limited Good: If you or I benefit, the other must lose.
Individual Circumstances may need such practical assistance such as micro-enterprise mediated through accountable relationships:
  • Subsistence: Where water acquisition consumes a family's time and energy, improved access to clean water allows pursuit of better employment.
  • Bonded servitude: High interest on even a small debt enslaves many, and micro-finance loans can create freedom to seek other employment.
  • Lack of skills: Training can empower a more profitable contribution to the community.
  • Lack of capital: Micro-finance loans enable entrepreneurs to increase the supply of existing products or services (subject to local market saturation or global competition).
Societal Environment: best improved through local and international advocacy.

Corruption: The best long-term remedy is widespread Biblical discipleship.

Lack of Infrastructure: Advocacy can encourage governments, charities and businesses to collaborate in developing infrastructure to facilitate commercial enterprise.

Lack of Basic Goods, Services and Employment: The Church can encourage and assist the development of healthy, enterprises which provide employment and discipleship while serving the community.

God didn't simply address our poverty by giving us instructions and resources. Christ emptied Himself and dwelt among us. The most effective approaches to breaking the poverty cycle include incarnational ministry which develops collaborative relationships to hear, serve, learn from and influence the poor, through biblical discipleship, practical assistance, business development and advocacy.

(reposted from Robby Butler, Poverty: The Church's Role, Mission Frontiers, July-August 2011)

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