I have had a bunch of conversations lately about the role of outsiders in marginalized communities.
The assumption is that outsiders -- white, suburban, christians (WSC)-- want to be involved in the urban context. They want to give of their time and money effectively and, of course, not be disrespected in the process.
But often, insiders -- urban Christians of all hues (UC)-- feel disrespected along the way. They feel that the WSCs are not actually giving freely, that they are not giving without strings attached or hidden agendas. Additionally, the UCs feel that the WSCs give out of such imperiled motives and limited (privileged) perspectives that they do more harm than good. I just spoke with a pastor who all but told me he wants his supporters to give money but stay away -- they'll screw things up if they are around too long. And he is just more honest than MANY I know who wish they had the freedom (luxury, privilege, power) to say the same thing.
This is why we started Bridge Builders. We expect that the giving in the body of Christ must be two-way to be genuine. When we have missions teams here, we literally try to give them more than they give (they probably don't always perceive it this way). We want them to be able to give financially and of their time directly and effectively.
Here is the reality: we need them (everyone see this) and they need us (really? how? few see this).
Given that it is our assumption that the need goes both ways, we want to figure out what it means to genuinely equip our donors in terms of personal connections. We want them to visit, to learn, to see and of course to support the ministry financially. We want them to enter into the joy of ministry of which they are really a part, in a way that affirms all involved. We want them to receive, not just to give.
I am entering into a new challenge at Sunshine -- over the next three years to raise 1000 monthly donors averaging $50/month. As I do this I am seriously trying to figure out how we invite these donors into a sort of covenantal relationship with our community. My hope is that we as a ministry, as an urban community, can give back to the donors, and give well.
So my question is this: What is the value of the outsider beyond money? How does someone in an urban context honor and minister in return without exploiting those here in the community? What are the unrealistic expectations of the outsider? How can those expectations be responded to from a ministry standpoint?