NICK EICHER, HOST: Next up on The World and Everything in It: a preview of this week’s Listening In. This weekend, a conversation on poverty-fighting.
Pastor Jason Janz founded Providence Bible Church in a low-income Denver neighborhood about a decade ago. After ministering there for a few years, Janz set a lofty goal: to eliminate poverty in the community. The church’s workforce training ministry, called Cross Purpose, helps people find and keep jobs that pay good wages.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Listening In host Warren Smith talked to Jason Janz about the hard work of helping people help themselves. He began by asking why Janz wanted to plant a church in such an impoverished area.
JASON JANZ: Yeah. I was in the same church from the time I was in sixth grade till the time I was 33 years old and I just felt like I needed a different way of doing church. And so my wife and I, we resigned the position we had at our previous church then moved into an urban neighborhood to start a multicultural, multilingual church that would both have, we would have a diverse socioeconomic makeup to it.
So think of like a Cadillac and a shopping cart kind of out front kind of idea because I wanted to recreate the culture and environment of the early church in Acts 4 where you had Barnabas, the landowner, and people in poverty sitting in the same pew. And I wanted to do that kind of church because I thought if you could bring people into proximity, you not only, you would solve mutual poverty, the economic poverty that we see in the poor and then this like spiritual poverty and poverty of meaning that we see in the rich. And so that was kind of the genesis behind the church that we started 10 years ago in an urban neighborhood.
WARREN SMITH: And so how’s that work? How’s that, I mean, did, did the theory play out in practice or were there some learning experiences along the way?
JANZ: Yes. No. I always say I have life stories, death stories, and resurrection stories. Which ones do you want? You know, but you know, I can give you the life and resurrection stories all day long. You know, I mean I, in my small group, I had the prosecuting attorney who put a guy in prison and the guy he put in prison sitting on the same couch in my small group. That’s the, you know, the Cadillac and the shopping cart kind of idea. But it’s been super hard. I mean, we are so divided by race and class in our country and in our churches that, you know, our faith is something that we hold the most dear to our hearts. And so we all have an expression that’s, that’s very cultural. So to bring that all together into one body is really hard and takes a lot of work and understanding and there’s hurt feelings and mediations, and you know, we deal with issues of race and class every week.
REICHARD: That’s Jason Janz speaking with Warren Smith. To hear the full interview, look for Listening In on your favorite podcast platform. The program goes live tomorrow.