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Blue Collar Ministry: Facing Economic and Social Realities of Working People [Paperback]

By Tex Sample (Author)
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Item Number 139021  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   192
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.5" Width: 5.52" Height: 0.53"
Weight:   0.61 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jun 30, 1984
Publisher   Judson Press
ISBN  0817010297  
EAN  9780817010294  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Through a deep understanding of blue-collar lifestyles, Sample offers practical help for developing ministries that bring a sense of belonging and worth to workers trapped by class biases and limited opportunities.

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More About Tex Sample

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Tex Sample is a free lance lecturer, workshop leader and preacher. He serves as the coordinator of The Network for the Study of U.S. Lifestyles. From 1967-1999 he was the Robert B. and Kathleen Rogers Professor of Church and Society at Saint Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, Missouri.

Tex Sample currently resides in the state of Missouri.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Recommended by Micah Sifry, Final Review--McCain Benefits  May 3, 2008
Micah Sifry in Spoiling for a Fight: Third-Party Politics in America recommends this book. This book is a seminal reference, a vital, urgent reading for anyone who wishes to do the right thing for our massive blue collar population that has been betrayed by both parties (see Running on Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It.

Here are highlights from my fly-leaf notes:

+ Our society has structured inequality built in at all levels, and the blue collar and working poor populations will NEVER climb out of their pit unless we minister to them in an active manner.

+ The focus of the blue collar worker is the neighborhood, and a web of favors given and received, favors that define not just a community, but a covenant of community. See Off the Books for more on this.

+ Our "culture" has managed to make every individual that is structurally repressed feel guilty for not being able to rise above their circumstances because our churches and our state preach freedom of opportunity, but the REALITY is that the upper class web of connections trumps lower class striving every time.

+ The deindustrialization and deskilling of the economy (Bill Clinton's signal mistake, apart from being inept at getting single-payer health care where the working class would be the principal beneficiary) has deepened the disadvantages of race and gender in America.

+ The author does a superb job--truly a scholarly and responsible job--of properly reviewing applicable literatures and offering proper citation in text, not just endnotes, of a rich buffet of practical and intellectual contributions by others.

+ He discusses five types of blue collar groups:

- Blue Collar Winners, a threatened species
- Blue Collar Respectables, want family, school, and church to be in harmony, conformists, a morality of repression, lowered social norms make it harder to be "respectable," and there is no social mobility
- Blue Collar Survivors, trapped like inmates, a daily struggle to stay even with life in the face of multiple challenges
- Blue Collar Hard Living, heavy drinking, marital instability, toughness, political alienation, rootlessness, present time orientation, strong sense of individualism

The author's greatest contribution is his full exploration of how a pastor in a blue collar neighborhood cannot think of themselves as being on the pinnacle of a pyramidal organization between the community and God, but rather as a member at the base, part of a web of giving and love, dignity and local empowerment. This book should be required reading for EVERY pastor of ANY faith. It should also be required reading for every Precinct Captain for any political party, ideally a third party such as the Libertarians or Greens. This book is a handbook for connecting, empowering, and enriching at the local level.

The author concludes that the "ward heeler" is the best model, an individual that is constantly moving throughout the community, touching each person and especially the many that do not come to church, offering favors with love, investing in each individual. I am MOVED by this book. This is pastoral reference A, and it is touching in its understanding while illuminating in its scholarship.

Citing Andrew Greeley the author notes that ethnic politics is not about ideas, but rather about intuitive brokering among a broad diversity of intersecting interests. He goes on to cite the three weaknesses of ethnic politics: it depends on the group being structured; it overlooks small but explosive groups; and it fails to engage the intellectuals.

This is where I experience two huge epiphanies (Republican word for Aha!):

1. At the blue collar level, the author tells us, patriotism is not just a given, it is an EXISTENTIAL deeply rooted part of being. This helps me understand why Reverend Wright's intemperate (but accurate) depiction of the USA and the crimes done "in our name" would cause anger among the white blue collar population. America right or wrong is a tangible value.

2. At the national level, any candidate who would lead America must trisect three groups: money, brains, and brawn. I do not see any candidate, although John McCain appeals to me if he can avoid Leiberman or Rice as a Vice President (I would recommend to him the protagonists in The Average American: The Extraordinary Search for the Nation's Most Ordinary Citizen, that is doing that. All three of the candidates are doing platitudes to the public with secret handshakes behind closed doors with the money people, and all three are completely neglecting the intellectual substance: we are hated or distrusted around the world; we are doing nothing to eradicate the ten high level threats to humanity; we are bankrupt as a Nation (financially, morally, culturally, and intellectually), and "there is no plan."

Read my reviews of the following for additional perspective on how we have betrayed the lower two thirds of the population:
The Working Poor: Invisible in America
Off the Books: The Underground Economy of the Urban Poor

I read this book while trying to see if a third party candidacy is still viable. In that context:

1) I have written off Obama. His rejection of Reverend Wright is the final nail in his political coffin this time around, he has become, as one Reverend of color put it, the "House Negro." See Obama - The Postmodern Coup: Making of a Manchurian Candidate.

2) Bloomberg (see my review of Bloomberg by Bloomberg) needs to understand the difference between transpartisan ship and the two-party organized crime and spoils system, and then he needs to put his integrity on the line and go for the full enchilada.

Other reform books that have impressed me:
The Revolution: A Manifesto
Don't Start the Revolution Without Me!
Society's Breakthrough!: Releasing Essential Wisdom and Virtue in All the People

Not just for blue-collar pastors  Jan 30, 2004
In his book, Blue Collar Ministry, Tex Sample asserts that in order to have relevance in today¡¦s society and in order to have an effective ministry, the Church, specifically its pastors, must learn to understand the blue-collar working class in America. To this end, he gives us great insight into the ¡§economic and social realities of working people¡¨ and develops a strategy to galvanize and propel them into a politically viable syndicate. Mostly, though, this is a minister¡¦s manual on how to engage a congregation on terms that are germane.
While this book is compelling in highlighting what certainly is painted to be an underserved population, it is difficult to reconcile the extreme focus on differences with a vision of a unified Body of Christ. I think it is very important for those in ministry to know about, and be prepared to deal with, the issues affecting any population of Christians and non-Christians where the Church is situated ¡V which, of course, should be everywhere. What ends up happening here, however, it seems to me, is an offer-attention to otherness that ends up reinforcing the ideas of class-warfare and ultimately, I think, undermines the Gospel¡¦s vision of union with each other within a Kingdom community.
Throughout the book I found myself recoiling at the ideas of social stratification. But more fundamentally, the book left me with a feeling of smothering sadness. This is largely likely, I am sure, to my class background and economic situation ¡V being confronted with the facts of how people are oppressed is a hard pill to swallow when I realize that I am part of the oppressive order. Yet, I think there is more at play than that. My sadness also comes from a longing to see the Kingdom of God manifest here on earth. This book does not go far enough in pointing the Church toward the building of the unified Kingdom community. True, preoccupation with getting food on the table surely supercedes attention to ideology in many people¡¦s lives. Yet it seems to me that Sample puts these things away and against the Gospel, as if they should be attended to separately and first. I believe that they do not need to be separated. They can and should be the same.
Much of the book is spent on stylistic concerns about worship. Sample¡¦s focus is far too narrow. Having spent a fair portion of my childhood in a Charismatic Christian church, I find my experience to belie his descriptions. The church that I grew up in was made up of lawyers, carpenters, accountants, coal miners, college professors, doctors and so on. The worship was charismatic, with an abundance of ¡§Amens!¡¨ and raised hands. I don¡¦t believe this temper to have been a result of any social impulse or need to contrast with the weekday lives of the congregants. It was a result of the understanding of what a relationship with God meant, and what the Christian¡¦s response to God was supposed to be. This understanding could not have been completely founded in the cultural/economic vantage-points, or classes, of the people because the people were so various in these respects. This understanding came from the communal seeking of God¡¦s Word and will. It was a picture of what, I think, was intended for the Church: we are new creations, formed to come together in community. I do not think that Sample is suggesting that the ƒ±blue-collar pastor abandon a focus on building a Kingdom community, but he does seem to draw rather limiting borders on that community.
Sample goes on to say that the blue collar pastor should engage in a quid pro quo with the people of the community. Certainly, pastors should involve themselves in the practical matters of their congregants¡¦ lives, in the same way that Jesus involved himself in the practical matters of his followers. We see him over and over dealing with the immediate needs of the poor, sick and disadvantaged, as well as with those of the rich and advantaged. Yet he did not serve for service sake, or for the psychological need of the people to respond in kind, but for the building of a Kingdom community made up of poor and rich, disadvantaged and advantaged. In every case he served them toward a purpose: ushering in a new Kingdom. This is no different for uptown churches, transitional churches or blue-collar churches. A good pastor, of course, should always be ready to roll up his sleeves alongside his congregation. This is love, but Sample¡¦s argument for the quid pro quo seems overblown.
A final point I¡¦ll contend is Sample¡¦s description of power as a fundamental need. Not only does this description contradict his theses on the religion of winning, but it flies in the face of the Gospel. I do not believe that power is a fundamental need of humans. It may be a fundamental desire, but that desire is born out of our fallen-ness. In fact, it is the genesis of our fallen condition. The quest for knowledge, Adam and Eve¡¦s quest, was no more than a desire to have power over the part of God¡¦s creation that was withheld from them. Truly, there are classes within our culture that are powerless. The aim, though, of the Church, is not to push for a shift in power, thereby further engaging in the religion of winning only in the reverse of what has been. That shift has already occurred in the defeat of death by Christ. The role of the Church is to work at teaching all people to serve and love each other, no matter their class or economic situation.
In sum, Sample¡¦s suggestions run far too close to a Marxist ideology. Overthrow does not have to occur in order for liberation to be manifest in the lives of the working class. As Christians, we have to model the manner in which Christ resisted the culture of his day. He worked at transforming the heart condition of the people by serving them, by showing them how to walk together, to know and love each other as brothers and sisters. Pastors and Christians of all types of churches must follow this example.
"Blue-collar people are not abstractions . . ."  May 19, 2000
If the church is to develop a relevant ministry, it must have an understanding of and an appreciation for blue-collar life-styles, the conditions that shape these life-styles, and the need to survive class bias which causes inequities of opportunity. Sample brushes aside the stereotyped caricatures so often associated with factory workers, to present a realistic picture of the winners, losers, and survivors. His study challenges churches to develop a sensitive response to blue-collar needs-one that will bridge the gap between societal achievement myths and blue-collar realities by proclaiming that all persons through God's love are of infinite worth apart from who they are and what they do for a living. Sample describes many opportunities for relevant blue-collar ministry through worship that truly reflects the working experience, church programming that promotes close bonds of belonging, and community organization to cope effectively with inequities of opportunity. Pastors will be especially helped in their ministries by the suggestions for gaining acceptance in the blue-collar culture through an understanding of reciprocal relationships and in-depth knowledge of the community.

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