The most challenging book I read in the last year is also the title of this article. It’s a book written as a Christian response to poverty in Britain today.
The media rhetoric in austerity Britain has been to categorise the poor into deserving and undeserving, strivers and skivers, hard working and scrounging. Statistics are pumped out and marginal cases sensationalised to make it look like the benefit system is funding lavish lifestyles for many.
Poverty in the UK is complex and actually has four distinct elements – the obvious economic poverty; relational poverty where some lack a family or community support network to help; aspirational poverty where there is a lack of hope or capacity to extricate themselves from their current situation and then spiritual poverty – not knowing the God of our Lord Jesus Christ the glorious Father.
The Church has always been at the forefront of dealing with all those four types of poverty. Facing up to poverty individually and corporately is a complex business – it challenges our culture, lifestyles, busyness, assumptions and comfort zones. Some get angry and defensive, some give money and hope that is all that is required. Some are overcome with compassion and identification. Some get taken for a ride and some give until it hurts.
I do encourage you to buy and read “The myth of the undeserving poor” and think and pray how you individually and your Church community can help alleviate all poverty. It’s available online at The Myth of the Undeserving Poor – A Christian Response to Poverty in Britain Today
Andy Moyle, The Gateway Church
Life as a Christian has changed irreversibly since my wife and I became parents nearly five years ago. Whilst our two daughters are beautiful gifts from God, getting to church involves the kind of military precision that only an 18-month-old’s toileting habits can undermine. On the (many) days when I play guitar in the church band, my wife’s time is juggled between stopping our youngest from throwing her snack out of the buggy, and stopping our oldest from rushing the stage. It’s not always conducive to contemplative worship. We don’t call our under-5s work Livewires for nothing.
So why do we persevere? And why does the church persevere with us?
We persevere because we see our children grow through the Church. Jesus said “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” When we bring our children to church, they learn about God – through the songs we sing (which then get sung at home) but also through the love and acceptance of other people at church.
And the church perseveres with us because we’re a family. And in families, you have the quiet ones, the loud ones, the slightly unusual ones, but you are knitted together. The Bible tells us to “bear with one another in love” – forbearance being a scarce resource in these twitchy, intolerant times.
So here’s a thank you to those big families (churches), on behalf of all the regular-sized families (parents and children).