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A Church For The Poor - Book Review

Recent years have witnessed dramatic growth in churches across Britain finding ways to care for the poorest in their communities. Motivated by genuine concern, dedicated volunteers responded to the call to action and millions of pounds have been invested to support those most in need. However, the culture of many churches fails to attract those they are helping to the very faith that motivates this compassion. Even when people from poorer or working class backgrounds start on a journey of faith, many churches struggle to create an inclusive environment where they can feel welcomed and at home. With biblical insight and practical examples A Church for the Poor, by Martin Charlesworth and Natalie Williams, presents a vision of the church as a place where people from all sections of society can find a home and play a part. It is a call to rethink our traditions and transform the church to reach the poor in Britain today.

Review by Nigel Ring

How ‘accessible’ is your church?

If someone from a local run-down housing complex in your area walked into your church would they come a second time? Many churches have become so ‘middle class’ that they represent an unwelcoming environment for those from different socio-economic levels of society.

The authors of ‘A Church for the Poor’ come themselves from very different backgrounds. Martin Charlesworth was educated at a private boarding school whereas Natalie received free school meals. In their very disparate backgrounds lies their authenticity and credibility in joint-authoring such a book as this, a book that fills a unique place in the plethora of books about how to build church in our generation.

Presented in two distinct parts this book first analyses the causes of poverty and gives a Biblical perspective of the poor. The authors point out that ‘All New Testament churches focussed on remembering the poor in whatever way was most relevant to them. It was a priority not an option.’

They go on to analyse some of the characteristics of our current culture in the UK which contribute to the division between rich and poor.

Drawing extensively from their own stories Martin and Natalie illustrate and corroborate their findings. I was particularly helped by Natalie’s experiences which I found informative and enlightening, my own background being closer to Martin’s.

The way forward
The second part of the book addresses the core topic head on – what does a church for the poor look like and what adjustments should we be making to make ourselves accessible and relevant to this section of society?

In this part of the book the authors become more prescriptive, suggesting the issues in our churches that need addressing if we are to see those from poorer environments come into our churches. If we believe the gospel is for all men, and that God has a special heart for the poor, we have no option but to consider seriously what the authors suggest. ‘We can conclude’, they write, ‘that the church is designed to be a multicultural community where there is space for all sorts of people to belong and flourish.’

A ‘must read’ book
This is one of those ‘must read’ books, particularly by all church leaders. It needs to be taken seriously if we are to fulfil our commission to make disciples of all peoples in our generation. 

Accessed Dec 2019

To buy a copy today click here.

Book Recommendations
Books we recommend on our website don't necessarily reflect the position or opinions of ChristCentral. We recommended them to help challenge and equip our church leaders in developing healthy and well rounded churches and disciples of Jesus.