Christianese Demographics.

August 14, 2014 — 15 Comments


My one issue with all these Christian bestsellers is that they’re mostly written for mid-20s, early-30s, suburbanite Westernized middle-upper class well-to-do people with the same kinds of struggles like credit card debt, porn addiction, and “I have no purpose,” which are all indicative of entitled over-privileged attractive people who won’t buy generic soda like Dr. Thunder and own 500 thread count sheets.

There’s nothing particularly wrong about this group of people, and those problems are still very real, but I’m waiting for the book that speaks to a beat-up jobless homeless orphan who lives in a shopping cart and hasn’t showered in three weeks.

I want to write for the single mom who’s working four jobs to support her prodigal kids, for the suicidal child who’s moved from foster care to the sewer, for the girl in a rundown slum who’s about to hustle for the pimp down the corner.

I want to speak hope into hopeless situations.

I don’t want to keep speaking to the same million-or-so Christians in America who download the same podcasts and attend the same five megachurches and attack each other for wrong doctrine and the color of painting in the chapel.  I want the people that no one else wants.  Because I was the one that no one else wanted, either.  I want the heroin addicts in the first row, the prostitutes and problem kids and lepers and the lawless.  Give me that homeless guy and I’ll tell him there’s still a future, because Jesus is for him and the rich and the sick and the old and the dying and the hurting, and he’s for you, too.

— J.S.



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15 responses to Christianese Demographics.

  1. 

    Been there. Done that. And lost my ministry over it. Caucasians don’t want you to respect native culture. Natives don’t want a Caucasian male ministering effectively. Hm? Or the pastor I know really well who made the poor feel welcome and was fired viciously because the “new” people didn’t contribute to the budget! I agree with you entirely, except some of us headed there and got beached on a reef of bigotry…
    Sorry, I see I still have some issues to resolve over this.
    Peace

  2. 

    I couldn’t agree more with you here. When I was starting off in college, I got involved with a Christian ministry on campus, which was awesome. But, I felt judged and very much alone, like I couldn’t relate because I was one of very few students within the ministry whose parents were divorced, whose father had passed away to cancer (and I didn’t have any closure with him), whose life seemed to be in shambles. I think that we need to reevaluate the gospel and realize that is it not meant just for the upper middle class, but for those who are broken, poor, lost, alone.

    • 

      Yes. I’m sorry that happened to you. I do believe even the “sheltered church kid” can be with me in my pain, and I should be open to that. Yet there’s such a weird stigma when it comes to people outside the “inner-circle,” and it’s much more than subconscious walls.

      I was asked by a church to teach a class on multicultural ministry as part of a series of workshops. It was a much bigger conference than I expected, but my class was tiny. The size is okay with me, but I was surprised no one wanted to know how to reach across race, gender, and socioeconomic boundaries. And my simple lesson was: Don’t “try to be multicultural,” but share Jesus, and the church will be diversified as a result. Simple, yet tough too. But I believe the Gospel will reach everyone, and not trying to be hip or relevant. I’ve seen it happen.

      • 

        Thank you. Though it was difficult at times, I learned how to reciprocate my experiences to Christians that haven’t shared the same lifestyle. It’s a shame that you were not able to gather many for your class, but I do believe that God is working through your blog in marvelous ways!

        • 

          Thanks Shannon! By God’s grace, some of the students who attended were really impacted about the biblical calling for multicultural ministry. And you’re doing a wonderful thing! We all really do need each other.

  3. 

    By the way, here’s a follow-up to this blog post that was a question through my Tumblr.

    cobih asked:
    In response to “Christianese Demographics”: Is it possible that many Christian authors/preachers, at their deepest core, believe that they cannot effectively speak to these broken, struggling individuals that you speak of because they may inherently lack a certain experience, claim a vague ignorance or dare I even suggest, avoid the process of accepting these lifestyles and then addressing these audiences? Is it fear? Or is it negligence? What do you think?

    Yes, definitely, to all your questions. You’re referring to this post. I’m sure it’s a mix of all these things, and not to be blamed on any one absolute motive. I’m sure there have to be authors who really want to reach those who are hurting/homeless/hopeless, but for the variety of reasons you mentioned, they simply cannot or will not. So I can’t throw all of them under a bus (and if I did so, then I have to throw myself under it too).

    Sometimes I write posts that I like to call “an economy of words,” which is a simple point without much subtlety or nuance or disclaimers, and I don’t answer the “well-what-about-this.” Otherwise it might become a novel (hah). In this case I was probably a little black-and-white and on-the-nose, so I appreciate your grace in responding. In the blogosphere, usually we immediately demonize a blogger when they miss a certain angle or forget to cover all their bases, and that drives me crazy. So I really am grateful for your patience.

    Having grown up poor (and not third-world poor, so I was still very blessed), it always hurts to see us neglected. I sometimes read sugary things like “God has an amazing plan for your life” and then I see a dude on the street who’s about to die from gangrene or a diseased kidney, and I just know they could never ever relate. That sort of god, to me, is limited and fits right in my pocket. It’s god of self-improvement and wise habits and daily living, which are all necessary, but not primary. I believe the bigger we define God as He really is, the more we know He will work over, above, through, and beyond the worst of our circumstances.

    — J.S.

  4. 

    Great view on things! You wouldn’t mind if I reblog this right?

  5. 

    So have you started the book?

  6. 

    I am from a third-world country and I am indeed blessed by your blogs. I just stumbled upon this through facebook. Thank you and keep sharing! I am blessed with you being in a multicultural ministry.

    • 

      Thank you so much. It’s difficult to speak hope at every level, and I fail at this quite a lot. I’ll continue to try by grace. Thanks again. :)

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