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Models for Class Reconciliation in the Church. Three Options Biblically for Churches. Be a lower-class dominant church Be a multi-class church Must work toward genuine class reconciliation within the church

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three options biblically for churches
Three Options Biblically for Churches
  • Be a lower-class dominant church
  • Be a multi-class church
    • Must work toward genuine class reconciliation within the church
    • Only possible if church can develop a critical mass of the poor and if the pastors will use their power to offset natural class tendencies in society
  • Be a Middle/Upper Class Giving Church
    • Give one-third of tithe to churches and ministries that primarily serve the poor and oppressed
lower class focused church models pentecostals
Lower Class Focused Church Models: Pentecostals
  • Unique Role: Church culturally of the poor
  • Class Background
    • Ministry of the poor
    • Church culture strongly fits with class culture of the poor creating self selection
  • Class identification through policies
    • Control over education to avoid class assimilation
    • Raise leadership from within
  • Class Access
    • Very little access to upper classes to redistribute resources, and Is financially dependent on lower classes
    • Somewhat promotes gaining class access to individuals with a distrust the spiritual effect of classism of educational instructions
  • Class Consciousness
    • Does not promote Class Consciousness
lower class focused church models salvation army
Lower Class Focused Church Models: Salvation Army
  • Unique Role: ministry with the poor to get resources to the poorest
  • Class Background
    • Ministry with the poor
    • Mission strongly focused on transferring resources to the poor
  • Class Identification through policies
    • Control over education to avoid class assimilation
    • Raise leadership from within
  • Class Access
    • Amazing level of class access to upper classes to redistribute resources, but can be financially dependent on upper classes
    • Somewhat promotes gaining class access to individuals with a distrust of the spiritual effect of classism of educational instructions
  • Class Consciousness
    • Does not promote Class Consciousness
lower class focused church models urban black churches
Lower Class Focused Church Models: Urban Black Churches
  • Unique Role: Ministry of the urban Black community
  • Class Background
    • Ministry of the poor, with the poor and to the poor
    • Mission focus on Urban Black community makes class an inherent focus
  • Class Identity
    • Maintaining racial identity will often maintain class identification if they remain in lower-class dominant churches
    • Education in classist institutions can cause loss of class identification even while maintaining racial identity
  • Class Access
    • Strongly promotes upwardly mobile in class access
    • Is often financially dependent on middle/upper class Black community
  • Class Consciousness
    • Strongly promotes racial awareness, but does not strongly promote distinct Class Consciousness
lower class focused church models latin american liberation theology
Lower Class Focused Church Models: Latin American Liberation Theology
  • Unique Role: Political—changing political systems of exploitation
  • Class Background
    • Ministry to the poor and with the poor
    • Lower classes often self select increasingly to Pentecostalism because it often is a better fit with culture
    • Mission: strongly focused on changing systems that perpetuating poverty
  • Class Identification
    • Strong theology to maintain class identification
  • Class Access
    • Strong level of access to upper classes through Catholic church to affect political systems, but can be financially dependent on upper classes through Catholic church
    • Language is often middle/upper class language to influence systems
  • Class Consciousness
    • Strongly promotes Class Consciousness through theology
church based workers movements
Church-Based Workers Movements
  • Unique Role: Economic—changing economic systems of exploitation
  • Class Background
    • Working class (lower, lower middle and middle)
    • Mission to address economic issues for the working-class
  • Class identification
    • Very strong control over education to avoid class assimilation
    • Promote language, dress and culture of working class to maintain class identity
  • Class access
    • Movements are often led by middle-class that maintain their class identification with the working class and poor
    • Do not promote mobility out of blue collar jobs
  • Class Consciousness
    • Very strongly promotes Class Consciousness
lessons from lower class church models
Lessons from Lower Class Church Models
  • Class Background
    • Lower classes self-select to groups that fit their culture
    • Cultural fit is more important than being politically “for the poor”
  • Class Identification
    • Lower class identification is often done through organizational structures and culture than through an individual process
  • Class Access
    • Gaining class access while maintaining class identification is difficult unless you manage the educational process
  • Class Consciousness
    • Often the political environment will not tolerate promoting Class Consciousness
    • Class Consciousness becomes more possible and necessary as you gain class access
lessons from church models understand your role in class reconciliation
Lessons from Church Models: Understand Your Role in Class Reconciliation
  • Pentecostals
    • Ministry of the poor that fits its class culture
  • Salvation Army
    • Transferring resources from upper classes to lower classes
  • Black Churches
    • Race-centered ministry of/with the poor and/or transferring resources from upper classes to lower classes
  • Latin American Liberation Theology Churches
    • Ministry to change political systems affecting the poor
  • Christian Worker’s Movements
    • Ministry to address economic issues for the working class
lessons from church models class consciousness and being apolitical
Lessons from Church Models: Class Consciousness and Being Apolitical
  • Upper class groups often paternalistically judge lower class groups that are apolitical
  • Frequently it is politically unsafe for lower class groups to be political due to extreme oppression
    • Latin American History (political volatility)
    • McCarthyism in the USA (suppression of Class Consciousness)
  • Being political and being class aware often go together
    • Important to recognize that being political and class aware is usually done by those gaining class access while retaining class identification because of increased power to cope with hostility
  • Should respect lower class group’s perspective to determine this for themselves based on their unique role
    • But recognize that political situations do change and may require re-evaluating apolitical traditions
being a multi class church
Being a Multi-class Church
  • Unique Role: Equality—ministry with the poor on equal level
  • Requires commitment to at least do ministry with the poor
    • Ministry to the poor in a multi-class church is inherently paternalistic
  • Most common in ethnic churches
  • Must work toward genuine class reconciliation within the church
    • Need critical mass of lower-class church members
    • Requires pastors that are willing to use their power to offset class dominance tendencies
power in a multi class church
Power in a Multi-class Church
  • There will be overwhelmingly strong tendencies for upper classes to dominate in multi-class churches
    • Leadership, culture, worship, values, resource allocation, program priorities, etc.
  • Pastors must use their power to offset tendencies of class dominance
    • Need pastors that identify with the poor for be able to see their perspective for this to be possible
    • Need critical mass of leaders with a lower-class identity to make this possible
  • It is better to follow the giving church model than to do the multi-class model poorly (where power is not balanced between classes)
being a giving church
Being a Giving Church
  • Unique Role: resources—giving resources to ministries of/with the poor
  • Many churches will not be able to generate a critical mass of lower classes to be able to serve them well (geography, cultural barriers)
  • These churches should follow the Biblical model in Deuteronomy and give 1/3 of the church income to lower-class dominant organizations
    • Lower-class dominant organizations will be able to meet the poor in their own cultural context
    • Important to not use giving to control organizations because that can impose upper class values
    • Encourage relationship building with partners, but do it without exercising control
marxism vs pentecostals indigenous values
Marxism vs. Pentecostals: Indigenous Values

Who has more indigenous values of the “poor”: Pentecostals or Marxists?

summary of marxism
Summary of Marxism
  • Marxism is the logical conclusion of applying dominant culture values to the situation of the lower class
    • Objectivity, materialism, detached, analytical tools of academia lack cultural values of the lower classes
    • Significantly devalues the subjective culture of the lower classes
    • Marxism promises material benefit at the cost of the soul of the culture (requires cultural assimilation to the above dominant cultural values)