This pretty much sums up a point I’ve been trying to make for some time.
Jonathan next gets directly at a point I make in my letter. Just because that is theimage of the church in the eyes of many does not mean it is the reality. The reality is the church is by every objective measure focused on helping the poor more than fighting the culture war, but that fact is largely unknown because we don’t control our image in popular culture. The other side would have us change not by different messaging but through an abandonment of the field. Al Mohler wrote on Monday: “But when my phone rings with a call from a reporter these days, the question I am asked is never adultery or pornography. It is about homosexuality.” When it comes to homosexuality, we are addressing the obsessions of others. (Don’t believe me? Here’s a test: track your pastor’s next 25 sermons. How many deal with homosexuality?) When it comes to abortion, the blood of the innocents cries out for justice.
For context, here’s a key quote from his origional post:
In 2011, I researched the budgets of the leading culture war organizations and compared them to the leading Christian anti-poverty organizations. Here’s what I found:
How do those numbers stack up with leading Christian anti-poverty charities? Let’s look at just three: World Vision, Compassion International, and Samaritan’s Purse. Their total annual gross receipts (again, according to most recently available Form 990s) exceed $2.1 billion. The smallest of the three organizations (Samaritan’s Purse) has larger gross receipts than every major “pro-family” culture war organization in the United States combined. World Vision, the largest, not only takes in more than $1 billion per year, it also has more than 1,400 employees and 43,000 volunteers.
In other words, Christians are overwhelmingly focused with their money and their time on the poor, not on culture war issues. Then why are Christians portrayed differently? Because the media is obsessed with the sexual revolution and demonizes dissent. If news outlets focus on Christians only when engaged on culture war issues and ignores the much more extensive work we do for the poor in Africa, in Asia, and at home, then it’s no wonder the wider world sees us as politically-obsessed.
Let me just finish on a tangent here.
There’s a common perception that it’s “liberal” churches who are more involved in charity work. Last year, I got involved with a church who was helping people affected by a certain disaster. It was only on my 4th visit that a chance comment made me realise that the church was in fact a Evangelical one – proir to that comment I had avoided theologyical discussions as I didn’t want disagreements on theology to disrupt the unity we had in our goal of helping people.
It was after that talk that I started to look back, and realised that I had discounted the work that my previous churches had done. I realised that all the churches I’d been involved with had been quite strong on helping the poor and disadvantaged, and in fact the liberal ones had often been the first to quit such projects.
Which makes you wonder what liberal churches do with themselves. As far as I can tell, the answer to that is pretty much nothing.