Skip to main content

I am a lay leader in the CRC.  Being involved in a financially challenged congregation and also being involved in planting new churches via our Grand Rapids area classis, I've seen the benefits of pastors being able to creatively manage their personal expenses.  As the CRC continues to try to start many new churches, and as more churches become financially strained, it seems like the return of the 'tent-maker' pastor may be happening.  It might be very helpful for the seminary to have a class on tent-making, and transitioning from being part-time to full-time and back again.  It seems that many pastors may be faced with this type of situation in the future, and this certainly is an important knowledge set to have if starting a new church today.

Posted in: What's Needed?

Thanks for the discussion topic, Melissa.  I attend a local CRC here in Grand Rapids, Michigan where a large part of our congregation is made up of the poor - meaning they don't have as much money as many people in our society.  I say it that way because they are in fact not poor in many other ways - they are rich in love towards each other and God; they are rich in compassion towards each other; and they are rich in knowledge about how to live poor in our world.  In fact, in the 5 years since I've attended this church I've also learned (much to my surprise) that the poor aren't dying to be like me (middle class) - they are often perfectly happy to live within a framework of poverty because that largely what they know and were raised in.  They've learned and been taught the lessons of how to live on less for long periods of time, and now it's their lifestyle.

Sure, a little handout might help from time to time, but that brings me to your question - how do we as Christians take care of the poor around the holidays or at any time of the year?  I've learned a lot from attending this church for the past 5 years, not the least of which is that the poor don't really want your money - they want you.  That's right - you, and the relationship they can have with you.  Just like I wouldn't show love to my middle class neighbors by giving them money or food and then walking away, the poor see your love through relationships.  I guess we're all the same that way in the end.  The messiness of relationship is the best way to take care of the poor, just like it's the best way to take care of and show love to everyone else.

So, what's a practical way of doing this for your church?  Our congregation has partnered with a few suburban CRC congregations in Grand Rapids to accomplish what I think you're looking for in your post.  One of our main goals is to bring the congregations into relationship with each other - learning from each other how best to serve and love each other - thereby showing the love of Christ to the world.  Yeah, it's messy and difficult and more than a little uncomfortable at times.  But it's starting to work.  And yes, they give us some money, but that's not the main goal.

If you can find a suitable urban congregation in your area (CRC or not), maybe that's a good starting point. 


We want to hear from you.

Connect to The Network and add your own question, blog, resource, or job.

Add Your Post