The love Lubbock’s homeless receives from the Church of Lubbock is genuine (sorta). I need to take care and point out that through the various churches (in a few instances), parachurches, and 501c3 ministries, and alliance between these and other agencies Lubbock reaches out to the homeless with a lot of resources. Lubbock feeds the hungry, no doubt. There are numerous places to get a meal for free and at least one meal can be had everyday in this town by anybody needing it. There are numerous clothing ministries keeping the homeless in something to wear. We have various shelter options too. I don’t want to misrepresent this stuff.
I sense it is possible that non-local people engaging this blog might suspect Lubbock does not offer these services. That would be wrong. Lubbock offers all of these services and more (medical care too, for instance) to varying degrees and in various ways. These services have value, sometimes life-saving value. I do not deny any of this.
On the contrary, I thank God daily for all the services this town offers to the poor as a part of my routine prayers. Even more, I will freely tell you, these are the reasons I ever became involved with some of the ministries offered around town to begin with!
And I did not leave these ministries behind because I didn’t like them; I left when I was either passed over (my participation was not accepted) or kicked out. But none of that should confuse the fact that real people with real needs get real needs met everyday. And I am grateful for every crumb that falls from the table of Lubbock!
I hope that is clear to my readers here. If it wasn’t clear before, I am telling you now. Take it from Agent X! I am the biggest critic by far; so if I concede all of that, you surely can trust it is true, even if you don’t verify it.
So what is the problem?
This is a Christian town, if ever there was one. You can’t get more “Christian” than Lubbock, Texas. Yet to my knowledge (except for arrangements made through Family Promise, with a very narrow focus on women with children) no church in Lubbock hosts the homeless for the night. The church-house doors are closed to “the least of these” night after night. Few, if any, churches host the homeless to SHARE A MEAL. And beyond that, there is no special welcome made to the homeless to worship with the church. And there is no excuse for it.
Perhaps that doesn’t matter to you. Some of you readers care about the homeless but couldn’t give a rip for the church. I don’t share your values (completely), and this blog will be meaningless to you – if that’s you. But for those who care that the “church” be the church – at least strive to be even if falling short – then we have a long way to go.
But some of you will say, “The church is doing much, actually!” And I YES! – sorta. But the church expresses the loving touch of Jesus with a ten foot pole. Most of this benevolence is funneled through the nonprofits, and not handled by the Body of Christ.
Show up at ANY church in this town on a Sunday morning and look around. How many street homeless people do you see? Ten? Five? Three? Two?? Is there even one??? (I almost feel like Abraham bargaining with God to save Sodom and Gomorrah.)
If you could be there following Jesus on those dusty Galilean trails and crisscrossing the Sea of Galilee as he takes his ministry to Israel, you would find him mobbed by every kind of broken, lowly, sinner, the poor and the needy. If you could watch him enter Jerusalem for that fateful Passover, you would find the poor and needy mobs lining his parade in welcome to him. But you show up in church in Lubbock, Texas on a Sunday morning, and you are not likely to find such people clinging to him. And if you ask where they all are… ask any pastor, any deacon… you are sure to find a caring response. With a twinkle in the eye and a warm caring smile, they will tell you, “We have a place for them down at… [the other end of our ten foot pole]”.
Seriously, look and listen to the response. You can see it all over the face that smiles and glibly gushes about all the great things “we” do for the poor, and, like I said, there are a lot. The budget is huge, the array of services is vast, and so is the distance we carefully put between Jesus and the poor, disguised very carefully to look and sound like LOVE.
And if you want to take the guided tour, that is exactly what you will find. The church of Lubbock is banking that you won’t ask the wrong questions, that you won’t dig too deeply beneath the surface, that you won’t think for yourself about some of these inconsistencies. If you do, they say you are “going rogue”, and marginalize you too.