more dues

I got some encouraging replies after the last entry. That might have been partially due to my making it sound like our situation is worse than it is. My complaint was more about the pressures in society to "pay your dues" rather than about the specific situation we face right now. Maybe I should say a bit more about that.

It's true (as Stephen pointed out) that we shouldn't have to please authorities and influential people to draw out God's poor, the anawim. But our initial thoughts were that we would work with social service organizations, and perhaps churches with active programs to help the poor. It would be easier that way. That, however, does run you into authorities and the people that have positions of influence in those organizations. Trying to access larger numbers of people, we found ourselves struggling to be heard by the leaders of those big groups. Not very easy.

I imagine that people in authority don't necessarily intend to make it hard for "the little people" to be heard. I suppose they're usually busy and pressured and have to prioritize. But then part of the problem is that the priority goes to the big, the popular, the influential. "Paying your dues" comes to mean learning what sells to the people on top, and making yourself attractive to them. Making yourself like them, really. It's a way of bringing people into conformity with something that's pretty much the opposite of Jesus.

My response to this is simply to try to step back from appealing to the leaders, and look for the connections God is offering closer to the people we want to serve. At the time I thought that, I had been given two suggestions of people to contact. One was a pastor for all the pastors in our denomination in the Chicago area. The other was a couple suggested by a friend; they had a rough past but were now involved with some kind of ministry, and my friend had a feeling we might work well together. My inclination was to contact the pastor-of-pastors, of course. But I decided to call the other guy, though it was hard tracking him down, and I couldn't see it leading to much.

It turns out he's very interested, though. And he's a pastoral counselor for ten church locations, working with many people that have had addiction and abuse problems. I'm not sure yet if it'll be a good fit, but it's the most enthusiastic response we've gotten so far.