Christian Target Practice

A number of years ago I was showing a pastor, who had just dropped by, our newly remodeled church auditorium. Our members where thankful for it, and did most the work inside that ordinary metal shell of a building themselves. They could never afford to pay for the work, but there was a special joy in using their own hands in this remodeling project. He said, “What this church needs is some people with money, once you get those kind of people in here you will then have the assets to do other things. This church has always been populated by lower middle class people, and it will never grow that way.”

I was so shocked I was speechless... Yet, as I thought about it, I should not have been shocked since this seems to be a prevailing behind the scenes ministry philosophy in our day. This ministry “targeting” is simply profane religious institutional classism, which is a form of classism that occurs when ministry practices are structured in such a way as to effectively marginalize people from lower socioeconomic classes.

In this sort of classism a ministry team uses demographic models to identify and describe the specific type of person they will deliberately plan to target for evangelism and church membership. In the visiting pastor's case he was not the least bit bashful about this ministry philosophy. He was recommending that I target people based on their economic status. To be clear: I would rather not be associated or identified with that sort of dead bigoted classism, no matter what it is called... classism has no place in the Christianity I find in the New Testament. In fact, classism is soundly condemned in the Bible. Read James 2:1-17.

One of the overriding truths of James 2 is that gospel faith produces spiritual life, and spiritual life has certain characteristics which do not include classism. James was scolding churches who targeted anyone less than everyone for evangelism and church membership, or gave special attention or respect to people who had an abundance of material assets and/or status, while marginalizing the poor.

Actually Christians with a living faith are inclined to give special attention to those who have glaring needs, not those who don't. Jesus is a physician to the ill not the well. When you see a Christianity that is deliberately “targeting” specific areas and people who have abundant assets, as mentioned here in James, you are seeing a twisted form of Christianity soundly and repeatedly condemned in the New Testament.


  1. How do you target the rich... do you evangelize at country clubs?

  2. Rich people think they're entitled to run the place, though. Sometimes the money isn't worth it.



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