I am in favor of and an advocate for a public social service net--I worked hard at and made my livelihood from one for many years. I have designed and facilitated many programs on behalf of our most vulnerable. While still a good thing, I am very weary of a government-run and semi-government (by design which receive substations government funds either by the grant process of by legislation (or law) non-profit system (yes, they are one system) whose programs still leave the poor in poverty with little or no escape (no upward mobility, if you will) and, in the end, that mostly benefits the politicians and EDs/CEOs who are dependent on the poor, well, being poor for their votes and grant money, and, as well, the massive bureaucracies--the armies of clerical and professional poverty-fighters whose livelihoods and their own upward mobility are only secure in as much as poverty continues. The least likely beneficiary for such a system is the actual poor. In fact, too many people and groups are dependent on the poor remaining poor. I have a problem with this. It is time to rethink how poverty is addressed.
Even large corporations—the biggest ones—aren't geared to support a truly anti-poverty approach to, well, end poverty and/or move the poor out of poverty.
Year ago now, I had asked one of the most involved funders of poverty programs (GE, Inc.) if they'd consider a new approach to fighting poverty, one that will actually move individuals and families OUT of INTERGENERATIONAL POVERTY and the response: "Sorry, we can't. That's just not one of our buckets."
Yes, indeed, all players need to be at the table (including BIG BUSINESS and the GOVERNMENT), yet I believe the church, or better, churches (implying churches local) are the ones to offer a new (really an older) paradigm for fighting poverty. But, in order to be able to and best be positioned to alleviate poverty and actually move people (really communities) out of poverty, the church needs to rethink church, which in the end might be the harder system to undo.
Chip M. Anderson, advocate for biblical social action; pastor of an urban church plant in the Hill neighborhood of New Haven, CT; husband, father, author, former Greek & NT professor; and, 19 years involved with social action.