SOURCE: ChristiaNet, Inc.

May 24, 2005 11:58 ET

Jim Towey on the State of the Church

HOUSTON, TX -- (MARKET WIRE) -- May 24, 2005 -- ChristiaNet, Inc. (http://www.christianet.com), the world's largest Christian Internet website, has just interviewed Jim Towey, the Director of The White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, about the state of the church today.

Jim Towey spends a lot of time with servants to the poor, the helpless and the needy. As Director in The White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, he sees President Bush's "compassionate conservatism" in action, and believes, from what he sees, that the state of the church in America is not as awful as some say it is. "I have the luxury of associating with a lot of saints. So I have a really upbeat view of things," Towey said. "You see these souls that are out there hidden to the world. These humble, Godly people that day in and day out are opening up the soup kitchens and the food pantrys, and the surplus clothing centers, and the volunteers that are going into the nursing homes and into the foster homes, and the programs to help the addicts and the battered women and their shelters to help them regain their dignity."

Towey finds inspiration in the faith-based programs that he sees working around the country and says he sees a particular anointing around the poor and those who reach out to help them. When Christians begin to reach out to those in need, the church will prosper. "I think there has to be a resistance to comfortable Christianity that kind of entertains or that tickles the ears but doesn't challenge," Towey said. "Who's reaching out to that widow, or that orphan, or that refugee? Or that stranger or that homeless person, that mentally ill person or that returning inmate? Who's doing that work? And wherever you see them gathered, [Jesus is] there in the midst."

To battle "comfortable Christianity," Towey said it's important for the Church body to change their way of thinking. Christians need to have the mindset that the government is not responsible for taking care of people, but that they have a responsibility to their own neighbor. That's how you can tell a healthy church. "I find that there you see a lot of life within the church," Towey said. "And so to me I've always felt like that was one of the ways you could tell a real pulse. They don't just pass by."

But people in the church today do pass by, and Towey compares these instances to the parable from Luke. "It's a beautiful parable Jesus told of what happens when busy, well-intended people don't stop and look at who the Lord has placed in their presence," Towey said. "It wasn't that the Levite was a bad person. He was busy, but he thought somehow that it was okay. And his conscience had been dulled to where he thought it was okay to pass the fallen man at his feet. And the Samaritans had a lively conscience."

The responsibility to help sharpen Christians' consciences lies within the church itself, said Towey. "I think that's where church leaders have a special obligation to not tickle the ears of people, but to prick consciences and do it in a way that the Lord did it; mercifully, lovingly, but truthfully," Towey said.

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