James 2:1 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.
Rich and poor will never mix. If you want to reach the rich you must go to them where they are and make them comfortable in your church. This is the new philosophy or fad on the mission field! The idea is to bring racism to the mission field even in the lives of the missionaries who work on the field. Of course the missionary would deny this, he would say you have to accept the culture you are working in. The question is then; is it right to have a church that will not accept others who are different than ourselves. What would have happened had the church that led him to Christ had the same philosophy that he has—would he have gotten saved? The new philosophy is that North American missionaries should work among the wealthier people on the field. To do that they are willing to go to extremes. For example, recently a North American “Independent Baptist” missionary was over heard saying that his church only wanted the upper class people. The comment was made that the gospel tracts and invitations that he had with his church address on them were to be given only to folks who looked like they belonged in that kind of church. He said, “Put these tracts under the counter and only give them to the kind of people who would feel comfortable in our church!”
The idea is that the wealthy do not like to be around poor people and so we should lower the Bible to their level of living and develop a church for their kind of people. To do so this particular church does not have a sign on it that indicates that it is a church of any type. It certainly does not say it is a “Baptist Church” after all we do not want to offend or alienate these people.
This philosophy goes far beyond what the Scriptures teach in the book of James 2:1-9:
1 ¶ My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.
2 For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;
3 And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool:
4 Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?
5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?
6 But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?
7 Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?
8 ¶ If ye fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:
9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.
For some reason missionaries who in the United States that would only be middle class to lower middle class people have come to enjoy their new international status. Now they work and mix with wealthy business men, doctors, lawyers, politicians and for that reason this new level of living goes to their head and they begin to think more highly of themselves than they ought to think.
George Muller took the rented pews out of his church in Bristol, England over a century ago because he realized that to give special recognition and place to someone based simply on their financial, economic and social level was sin. He initiated the idea in his church of a free will offering and that the people would be seated not according to rank and privilege but rather on a first come first serve basis. Oh, missionary friend, please consider this same principle in your ministry.
A friend once told me that a church should be a first class church reaching all the classes. I have no problem with a church being started in the wealthier area of town, I think that one should be started there but to condone and even promote the idea of partiality seems to me to be a sin. Start a church in the wealthy area of town then reach everyone you can with the gospel. Turn no one away based on their social level, color, race, etc.
Here are my contentions with some of the upper class ministries that I see and know of:
1. They condone, allow, and even promote the same class warfare that the Bible teaches against.
2. They witness to and invite only people who have money and will not be an embarrassment to those of their church.
3. They lower the preaching, standards, and Bible principles to make the wealthy feel comfortable.
4. They even send the poor to other churches where they will feel more comfortable.
5. They have developed a church that is little better than a social club. A missionary was heard to say; we even have a place where you can park without everyone seeing your car and realizing that you are a Christian.
6. The ministry has become a come as you are and leave, as you were ministry.
7. These churches and ministries promote a philosophy and an attitude that the Bible condemns and that they would condemn in their own country.
Even after accepting Christ as their Savior they are still going to have the same attitude as the lost world. The Lord Jesus can save people and give them a new heart that will make them accept others. The rich and poor will sit together in the same service and worship God if and when God really converts and changes them.