Six Characteristics of A Multi-Socio-Economic Church

 In Jason Bunger

“The rich and the poor meet together; the LORD is the Maker of them all.”  ~ Proverbs 22:2

This blog is the first of three installments about the makeup of a Biblical congregation.  Over these next few months we will examine the principle that a church should not only reflect the image of God, but should attempt to resemble the community in which the church resides.  I am convinced that the local church should not only be comprised of people who are united in our commitment to gospel, but should also reflect generational, ethnic and socio-economic diversity    

One of my personal convictions is that authentic, gospel-centered ministry will naturally draw and include people from diverse backgrounds.  There is something beyond us that unites every single person in this world.  We are all deeply sinful and equally in desperate need of a savior and church community in which we can experience Christ.  No person, regardless of background needs Christ any less than another.  We are all equally depended upon Christ, and this dependence makes us a family: a diverse, imperfect, and sometimes sloppy family. 

A second conviction of mine is that an authentic church will naturally be diverse in regards to age, ethnicity, or income unless the local church unintentionally disrupts this.  Sometimes, especially in regards to resource disparity, churches can marginalize people without being aware.  We are still working this out, but here are some principles that we are committed to uphold: 

We attempt to make sure that EVERYONE knows they belong.

In the first century church, it was clear that that some people were better off than others.  Wealthy people and marginalized people both belonged to the same church family.  It was not a “rich church” or a “poor church.”  Luke writes that the believers “were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.” (Acts 2:44-45) Christians consider it a privilege to help one another in need.  The people of God have a responsibility to help one another in our church family when we can. Paul tells the Galatians 6:2 that they are to “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ..”  and then he tells them, “…each one should carry their own load.” 

Some time ago, an apartment fire consumed all the possessions of one of our families at the church.  An email went out to our church family the next morning, and by the weekend, the family had enough to get back on their feet.  We all considered it a privilege to help.  It was one occasion that people commented, “What else would we do?  We are the church just being the church.”   

We attempt to make sure that EVERYONE is able to participate. 

We try to not unintentionally discriminate based on income. Some churches unintentionally discriminate by communicating that you have to have a certain income to be able to participate.  This means, that the opportunities are open to all, but some people simply cannot participate because of associated costs.  Many churches don’t recognize that some outreaches unintentionally can prevent some people from participating.   One of our ”unwritten” rules in our church, if you cannot afford to participate in something, just let us know, no questions asked.

When it comes to mission trips, we encourage EVERYONE to raise support.

This is for a number of reasons.  First of all, it enables those without resources to be able to fully participate.  Secondly, it encourages those with resources to be able to share why this particular ministry is important to their peers.  It is an opportunity to share what God is doing.  It creates an invitation for the rest of our congregation to share in the experience of that particular mission.  Finally, resource raising becomes what everyone on the trip does, not just those who need support.    

We encourage EVERYONE to participate in tithing and sacrificial giving. 

We teach that the Biblical example of giving is the tithe.  Giving 10 percent of our income to the kingdom of God impacts everyone, but does not kill anyone.  It is painful, but not impossible, no matter what you make.   More than that, our giving opportunities are for EVERYONE no matter where they are at financially. 

This past year we held a luncheon fundraiser after church for a feeding ministry in our community.  This was our “Super Bowl Chili Cook-Off” and the price of admission was “whatever you would normally spend on lunch after church on Sunday.”  If you would normally go to Fleming’s with your family, then give the same large amount.  If you would collect quarters to eat off the $.99 value menu at Wendy’s, then give those quarters.  All we were asking for was your “lunch money” no matter how great or how small.  Basically, we are asked you to give the cost of your lunch to someone else.  Sounds kind of biblical doesn’t it?  (See that story about the boy with two fish and five loaves.) 

We encourage EVERYONE to wear what would make a guest feel comfortable. 

I like to dress up.  I am the kind of guy that needs all the help that he can get, and so if a suit makes me look better, I will wear it.  A number of years ago a young man in our congregation said that didn’t feel accepted because he could only wear jeans to church.  Instead of telling him that it was ok, or instead of telling the church that it is ok to wear jeans to church, I decided I would give a visual object lesson.  I wore jeans next Sunday to preach in and shared the congregation what had happened.  I then started wearing jeans nearly every Sunday, simply because very few people own suits and nearly everyone has a pair of jeans. 

I am often amazed by people who tell me that they intentionally dress down for church so that they are treated as a bother or sister and not as their position in the corporate world. 

We assume that EVERYONE can benefit from some financial coaching.

Every successful person in life has some kind of coach. We want to offer stewardship classes opportunities for people to be better off tomorrow that they are today. This is for everyone.  Each January, we usually offer Financial Peace University class. This class is for anyone who simply wants to be better stewards of what God has given us. In fact, I think the more a person has, the more they should probably take this course.  Why? Because they have more responsibility before God to be good stewards of what God has blessed them.   

A number of years ago, I was talking with the police chief in our community. I asked him what were the biggest challenges of people living in our community. He said, “Jason, don’t be fooled.  We are constantly being called to the half-million homes of people that have a nice house, beautiful cars, but can’t afford a sofa because they are so house poor. There marriages are falling apart and they are having major domestic disputes because they are living beyond their means.”   

One of our Financial Peace University instructors share someone has worded it, “It does not matter if you are an entry-level employee or the CEO, everyone in the company is equally desperate for payday.”       


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  • Mark Brooks

    Great post Jason! The Christian community needs to see more of your insightful writings!!!

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