An invitation to kindness and generosity

Pov.ology: a resource for churches

“To be called to be evangelists is not just to be proclaimers or talkers – it’s to be people who carry the reality forward,” says Bruxy Cavey. The pastor from The Meeting House, a Brethren in Christ church in Ontario, is interviewed in Pov.ology, a video-based resource for churches to learn about poverty.

Pov.ology is a free small group curriculum comprised of six half-hour videos and a discussion guide. Kevin Wiebe, pastor New Life Christian Fellowship (NLCF), an Evangelical Mennonite Conference (EMC) church in Tilbury, Ont., interviews Anabaptist theologians and practitioners like Shane Claiborne and Ronald Sider, Canadian Mennonite University development studies professor Ray Vander Zaag and Canadian pastors and social service workers on the topic of poverty, theology and the church.

“At times in the church there is a gap between what we profess to believe and the way we live,” says Wiebe. This is evident when the church’s approach to poverty fails to enact justice and communicate hope for those who are intended recipients of its charity. “I hope this series can help spark conversations that aid in narrowing the gap between our message and our actions as Christians and as the church.”

The six 30-minute sessions are entitled Our Homeless Leader, Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is, Responding to Poverty, Do No Harm, What About the Gospel? and The Power of Small Things. Each lesson in the downloadable discussion guide includes a quote from a famous poverty advocate, a Scripture passage, suggestions for further reader, and questions that probe the interviewees’ insights and spur personal or corporate action.

As Wiebe’s country church has worked through the series, “Helping others in various types of poverty has become much more than a line in our budget,” he says.

Members of the small church with few financial resources have found ways to show great love to people in need, from raising money to buy a vehicle for a single mother, to organizing food drives for families in short-term crisis, to accompanying people to court dates for moral support.

“Each of these stories represents a relationship, not some distant act of charity, but rather the love of Christ being expressed through personal connection,” says Wiebe.

NLCF is living Shane Claiborne’s Pov.ology teaching: “Just like disease, God’s love spreads through touch.”

One social worker told Wiebe they never saw a church help someone so much (with emotional/relational/spiritual support); “meanwhile, we felt like we still weren’t doing enough,” says Wiebe. “All of these are small things, but in each situation, I have witnessed members of our congregation expressing Christ’s love to others in tangible ways.”

“A few of the programs have been going on at church for years, but many of these stories are the result of our church asking the questions that inspired Pov.ology,” says Wiebe.

The series, created in association with NLCF and the EMC, is available to stream or download free of charge at www.povology.com. In lieu of payment for the series, Wiebe recommends several organization to whom users can donation. “I made this series as a gift to the church; for my church locally, the church conference I am a part of, and the broader church,” Wiebe says.

The gospel, says Cavey in Pov.ology, “is good news for people’s souls, hearts, relationships but also for their well being in a holistic sense on this planet.”

[Karla Braun

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