Keith Drury, a Wesley Church leader and professor (now retired), once wrote about how evangelicals have accepted a division of labor with the government: the church does some welfare ministry on the side, but lets the government carry most of the load. We talk a lot about giving to the poor, but, “We need million-dollar buildings and a dozen staff persons to succeed in today’s competitive market.”
Besides, the cost of caring for the poor is prohibitive. “In most towns in the USA, to pay for just the poor’s welfare we’d have to take every single dollar coming into every single church in the town–Protestant and Catholic alike–and use it for poverty programs. There would be no money left to pay the pastor or staff, or to cover the heat bill–let alone pay for a building. We like the notion of the church handling welfare, but when we crunch the numbers we see it just can’t be done. We can ‘help out,’ but we simply can’t match the government’s power and money.”
Drury says we COULD do it if every Christian tithed (an idealistic dream) and if we used all of that new income to care for the poor.
But, he says, “That raises a disturbing question. If all Christians started tithing this Sunday…would the church REALLY spend it on the poor?”