So I’ve been thinking through some things over the last 24 hours and trying to process. These are just some initial thoughts and by no means the answers. Those will take awhile to come.
Our church is seeking to make a difference in the city of Richmond. Brent and I have a specific focus on helping those who are oppressed in our city, whether because of race, income or both. With that comes the desire to educate those who are planting this church with us. We are still trying to figure out how to do this in reality, though.
This scenario happened last night, but is a good example of what we’re dealing with.
Around Thanksgiving a lady from the projects started coming to our gatherings who Brent knows from some non-profit work he has done. She has several children and then also is usually caring for several other children as well. She came last night with nine children to our monthly “Common Meal” before our meeting together. While this is wonderful, there is a divide that I’ve been trying to hash out in my brain, and therefore this blabbering…
Last night as people were going through the food line, the lady and the children came in the door. They immediately cut the people already in line for the food. Everyone was very gracious, even when the same children came back several times- cutting in line each time- while others stood still, without food.
Although there really are some great things going on, here are a couple of problems I see. There are two mentalities going on that have to be addressed. One, is the “us vs. them” or “haves vs. have nots” that the church people are communicating even though they don’t mean to or realize they’re doing it. While what they are doing seems kind and generous, they are enabling this concept that they are different.
The flip side is the mentality behind what drives this lady (and in turn, the children). She has learned how to use the system… the city’s system, the church’s system, the non-profit’s system. Who can blame her? This is what she’s been handed. However, she’s learned it all so well, she’s been taking more than her share. Not too unlike those in the suburbs, eh? But by us standing by, and letting her cut in line over and over we are enabling the idea that she can just continue to take.
This is not an attack on this lady, or our church people. This is a normal occurance all over the place. Our desire is to break through those barriers though. At some point, we all (church people and project people) are going to have to engage each other. We are going to have to have real conversations and real relationships. We are going to have to see each other as equals and all a part of this new community.
Now… to figure out how to be one people…