Is Your Congregation into Alleviating Poverty or Eliminating Poverty?

Every Sunday School class, missions group, women’s group, men’s group, and youth/student’s group in every congregation who does something to provide food, clothes, gifts/toys, Thanksgiving dinners, Christmas parties, and other activities during this or other seasons of the year is be commended. These are great short-term things that help to fill the gap for households needing a community of people who will provide them with a short-term boost. It is biblical. It is missional. It is Christian. And, it is about alleviating poverty—making suffering, deficiency, or a problem less severe.

But is that the extent of your offer? Is there more Christians ought to do? Isn’t this just a beginning? What about eliminating poverty—to completely remove and get rid of poverty one household at a time? Or, to seek to advocate for, legislate for, and cultivate a society of where poverty is eliminated. I know. I know. John 12:8a says “you will always have the poor with you.” But that is simply another proof text taken out of context. (We can deal with that another day.)

I do not propose any specific solutions today. I am simply raising the issue for you to ponder and pray about during Advent and Christmas. To that extent I am like Lucy in the Peanuts cartoon when she is playing amateur psychologist and would say something like this—“I do not have an answer. I am just pointing out the problem.” Today I just want to suggest that you allow yourself to be uncomfortable about the fact that many Christians are glad to alleviate poverty but are not into eliminating poverty.

Think on these things over Christmas.

–George Bullard

About the author 

Kyndra Bremer