Christian Aid campaigner, Jess Hall reflects on the need to provoke one another to love and good deeds, and how community organising practices can help push for a world where we see the kingdom come.
I believe in a God of justice, a God of peace, a God of solidarity.
All around me I see injustices. The injustice of poverty, of inequality, of the climate crisis, all fuelled by the same broken economic system.
The scale of injustice can leave me grieving and overwhelmed but also drives me to put my faith into action. Jesus calls me to love my neighbour and so I can’t just sit by, I need to reach out to and work with others. I need to offer my gifts and skills and push for a world where we see the kingdom come, creation restored, and lives lived in fullness.
It still seems like a massive task but tackling extreme poverty is not the task of the individual, it is the work of communities, local, national and global. We each have a role to play and a responsibility to work with others. Together we must call out injustice and challenge decision makers from government to corporates to reset the system so that it no longer works against the poor in favour of the wealthy few.
If we want this kind of change, on this kind of scale then we must work together. We can exercise our own individual influence over our daily lifestyle choices to minimise our impact on the world, yes absolutely. We can turn out to big rallies and marches to demonstrate the scale of collective will, yes of course. But our individual actions and momentary gatherings can still end up leaving us feeling isolated or that we haven’t changed anything.
We need to build our power as communities. We need to keep pushing for change in between big moments.
To build our power we need to constantly, as Hebrews 10 prompts us, 'consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds'. So how do we do it? How do we provoke and agitate one another to love our world and to take positive action week after week in our churches and communities?
Many of those who’ve sought justice long before me have left a strong legacy and practice of working in community, taking action and winning change, in particular using an approach known as community organising. From the civil rights movement to winning the ‘Living Wage’ for thousands of UK workers, the community organising approach offers the tools we need to work together to build power and create change. In my own church I’ve seen how using these tools can build strong relationships, lead us to greater action and so build the power required to challenge problems both local and global. Even problems as big as extreme poverty and the climate crisis.
So, what does that look like?
Well, it all starts with relationships, conversation and finding common ground with others around us. I’ve watched Christian Aid campaigners use these tools to discover allies in their churches they never knew existed. They took the time to talk, find shared concerns and agitated each other into action. By doing so they’ve made their churches take positive steps on issues of poverty and climate. Organising tools such as ‘power mapping’ have also helped Christian Aid supporters identify who holds decision making power in and outside the church. This has enabled them to focus their campaigning energy to win changes for the world’s poorest people.
Ultimately, these tools can help us understand our own agency and ability to bring about change in a world where power holders and decision makers rely on us to simply accept the status quo. For me, this transforms that overwhelming feeling about the world to one of hope as I recognise my own power to act and the power created when I work with others.
These tools are for you!
At Christian Aid we want to offer those very same tools to churches in the UK who want to step out in faith and provoke those around them to love and good deeds. Our new Campaign Organiser volunteer role will equip you to build and develop relationships with people in your church and community to take action together, so you can stand with the world’s poorest people and help win change.
Our world is crying out for justice, the earth groans for restoration. If you want to be part of creating change and want to find ways to bring others with you then the Campaign Organiser role is for you.
For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to talk to you about the role and work with you as we seek out justice in and on the earth.