The American church as a whole needs to move from selfish consumerism to unselfish contribution. Those are poles apart. To start with a woman who’s most interested in how many diamonds she’s got in her tennis bracelet, and move her to sit under a banyan tree holding an AIDS baby- that’s a giant leap.
One of the things that frustrated me the most about the Orthodox church I initially encountered was (as this observer also noticed) what seemed like a lack of concern for the poor. In the nine or so years that I’ve been Orthodox, I’ve come to understand the situation a little better, but I still see a need for more awareness. That said, I witnessed just such a transformation in my local church. The church is not poor and has several lawyers, doctors, and business owners in it. Many of these people have homes worth half a million or more dollars. But every year, a group of people from our church joins Project Mexico in building modest homes for the poor of Mexico. This year, one of those lawyer and his family went. After they come back, the people who participated in the project all give a little speech in front of the church about their experience. Most everyone else had gone once before, but what this family said was amazing. “Before we went, we would invite friends over to check out the new addition on our house or our new plasma TV. But, in Mexico, we built a home for people without one! The difference for them is so much more significant than anything we could buy for ourselves!” They had gained an incarnate understanding of poverty. Yeah, this is just another example of the the failing Church. And how people in the Church are saved from failure.