Jubilee+ team members Natalie Williams and Martin Charlesworth have co-written three books: The Myth of the Undeserving Poor (2014) addresses social and media attitudes to poverty; A Church for the Poor (2017) is a manifesto for transforming the Church to reach the marginalised; and A Call to Act (2020) focuses on what it means for each of us as Christians to build a poverty-busting lifestyle. Natalie’s latest book, on class issues and how they can affect UK churches, was co-authored by Paul Brown.
We’re called to be like Jesus, not like each other.
So why are most Western churches predominantly middle class? Could it be that we’re reaching out to people who are working class or in poverty, but struggling to connect them into church life?
Natalie Williams and Paul Brown know all too well that those saved from working class backgrounds often find themselves being discipled into middle class culture rather than authentic Christianity.
If we want to see people from all walks of life coming to know Christ and finding family in our churches, we need to unravel class values from biblical values. This means looking at the ways in which we inadvertently exclude, alienate and offend people who aren’t like us.
Recognising our differences empowers us to embrace diversity and find true unity.
It’s time to bridge invisible divides.
A Call to Act
Concern about poverty is central to the gospel of Jesus Christ. In recent years churches have rediscovered this. Yet we can still so easily fall into the trap of adding social action into our lives as an optional extra when convenient, rather than letting the justice-seeking heart of Jesus affect every area of our lives.
A practical tool with discussion questions and accompanying videos for churches, small groups, and individuals, A Call to Act demonstrates that, in order to engage with poverty and need, we must re-evaluate our attitudes and adopt a poverty-busting lifestyle. Whether getting up close to poverty, giving up comfort for compassion, or adopting a poverty-focused perspective, you will be empowered to live out Jesus’ principles of justice, mercy, and care of creation within your own community and the wider world.
A Church for the Poor
Recent years have witnessed dramatic growth in churches across Britain finding ways to care for the poorest in their communities. Motivated by genuine concern, dedicated volunteers responded to the call to action and millions of pounds have been invested to support those most in need. However, the culture of many churches fails to attract those they are helping to the very faith that motivates this compassion. Even when people from poorer or working class backgrounds start on a journey of faith, many churches struggle to create an inclusive environment where they can feel welcomed and at home.
With biblical insight and practical examples A Church for the Poor presents a vision of the church as a place where people from all sections of society can find a home and play a part. It is a call to rethink our traditions and transform the church to reach those in poverty in Britain today.
The Myth of the Undeserving Poor
When you think of poverty in Britain today, do you picture innocent children going without food or scroungers lounging on the sofa all day watching TV and cheating on benefits claims? For Christians, what we think about those in poverty in our nation needs to be shaped by biblical values, but can so often be framed by the dominant narratives of the day, which affect our attitudes and actions. Have we fallen for the myth of the undeserving poor?
“Is your reaction to poverty shaped unthinkingly by the media and by politicians? Don’t let them do the thinking for you. Everyone should read this excellent and challenging book.” – Phil Moore, author of Gagging Jesus
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