Alban Weekly | How pastors can help their congregations address the issue of immigration

6 months ago

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 How pastors can help their congregations address the issue of immigration 
For much of my life as a Christian, I thought about immigration primarily as a political, cultural, economic and security matter -- and rarely if ever as a biblical or missiological concern. My views on the subject mostly reflected those of my preferred cable news commentators; it never occurred to me that my faith might be relevant to the issue.
I'm not unique in that regard. Among evangelical Christians like me, for example, a 2015 LifeWay Research poll found that just 12 percent identify the Bible as the primary influence on their beliefs about immigration. In another 2015 survey, white evangelical and mainline Protestant Christians were the most likely religious subgroups to regard immigrants as a threat to American values. And while most Americans believe that the United States has a responsibility to admit refugees, most white Protestants do not.
But in my experience, those views are not shared by most pastors. In a 2016 LifeWay Research poll, 86 percent of Protestant senior pastors agreed that Christians should "care sacrificially for refugees and foreigners." Though pastors may be troubled by the hostility that some of their members feel toward immigrants, many steer clear of the issue, fearing that it could splinter their congregations, pushing some members to withhold tithes and offerings or even to leave.
For those pastors -- especially in a time of declining church attendance and budgets -- the easiest path is to avoid the subject of immigration altogether. But that only perpetuates a deficit of discipleship, leaving formation on this critical issue to Fox News, MSNBC and social media.
 Read more from Matthew Soerens »
How an ID card helps build trust between immigrants and law enforcement
A faith-based organization in North Carolina issues its own identification card as a way to promote understanding, trust and cooperation.
Read more from David Fraccaro »
Church on a mission to extend sanctuary learns to live with uncertainty
The first church in North Carolina to extend sanctuary to an undocumented immigrant facing deportation finds that the decision to open their doors is just the beginning of the journey.
Read more about St. Barnabas Episcopal Church »
A Texas nonprofit becomes a hub for addressing the border crisis
When immigrant families poured into the US seeking asylum, a small Christian nonprofit in Laredo, Texas, had to decide: Stay focused on its core mission or revamp everything in order to meet the humanitarian needs on its doorstep?
Read more about Holding Institute Community Center »
Community Ministry: New Challenges, Proven Steps to Faith-Based Initiatives
by Carl S. Dudley
In this era of "faith-based initiatives," congregations increasingly find themselves in the business of establishing and supporting community ministries-daycare for infants and toddlers, respite care for elders, and programs for housing rehab and home repair, tutoring, and social justice advocacy. In this volume, Carl S. Dudley revises and updates his earlier book, Basic Steps toward Community Ministry, which Loren Mead called "the most valuable book on parish ministry I've seen in a decade." 
Learn more and order the book » 
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