One of the most significant moments in the early church was when the Apostle Paul went to Jerusalem to meet with Peter, John and James. Paul had been preaching the good news about Jesus in various towns and cities, based on a revelation that he had received of the risen Jesus, and he wanted to go share his teaching with the Jerusalem apostles to receive their endorsement of his ministry. As it turned out, the apostles were absolutely supportive of Paul’s message, and they had only one instruction for him as he went on his way – remember the poor.
For a church in Manchester in the 21st Century, this instruction is more important than ever. Some of the great questions of our age concern inequality. Why is the gap between the very rich and the very poor so vast? How can we help those who have less than we do? What can a church do to make a difference.
The message of Jesus Christ was always supposed to be good news to the poor. The very first words that Jesus spoke as he went public with his ministry in Luke’s gospel are, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor…” He went on to talk about freeing the captives, giving sight to the blind, releasing the oppressed and declaring a time of God’s favour.
Jesus saw these things as part of who he was and what his mission was. This means that he believed that a fundamental part of his purpose was to bring change to society. When he looked at the world, he could see that it was not right for the poor to stay poor, for injustice to go unanswered and for the oppressed to be ignored.
The Poor at Christ Church Manchester
In Jesus’ kingdom, he would welcome in the poor, the hungry and those mourning or in pain, and as those who are working to see Jesus’ kingdom come in our city today, it is very important that we ‘remember the poor’. Some of the ways that we do this are:
A generous culture. Every year we gives many thousands of pounds away, and the bulk of this is to help the poor and marginalised. We factor generosity into our collective budgets, and regularly receive special offerings for the needy. We have created a fund to help those in our number with material needs, and we teach personal generosity to encourage us all to reflect God’s heart for the poor in our own lives.
Service. In the different sites of the church, there are lots of different ways that we practically serve those in need, from providing free community meals with open invites, to heading out and befriending homeless people. If you are interested in getting involved in serving the needy then have a chat with your site leader and they will let you know what is going on at your site.
Partnerships. We partner with and support other organisations that are providing specialised help for those in need. We have very close links with the Oasis Centre in Gorton, and provide lots of funds, volunteers and prayer for this work with some of the neediest in their community. We have also developed links and provided support for organisations working in our city like the Boaz Trust, Just Love Manchester and the Mayor’s Fund, as well as with those working with the vulnerable overseas.
Empowerment. We want to see people lifted out of poverty and empowered with new possibilities for their lives. At Christ Church Manchester, we don’t see the poor as simply recipients of help, but as friends, as part of the community, and as people who can use their own gifts to make a difference in the lives of others, and we work hard to empower everyone in the church to fulfil their God-given potential.