Renewal leaders and the pursuit of justice

Keith Doornbos Fresh Ideas Leave a Comment

Renewal leaders leaders from a majority culture have a unique responsibility to help their congregations pursue a more just society. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “A Church that has lost its voice for justice is a Church that has lost its relevance in the world.”  Micah asked, “What does the Lord require of you?” and answered, “To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Harvie Conn, past professor of missions at Westminster Seminary said evangelism is doing justice and preaching grace.

Here are 7 justice-focused choices renewal leaders should consider:

Choice 1: Immerse yourself in the reality of injustice

The journey towards acting justly begins with understanding.  Ask minority members of your congregation to share their stories of injustice with you.  Read widely about the history of systemic racism. Become informed.  An initial list of resources can be found on the CRCNA Network. A good book to invest in is Rediscipling the White Church by David Swanson.

Choice 2:  Pray for a broken heart

Pray that your heart will be broken by those things that break God’s heart.  A broken heart demands entering into the experiences of those who suffer, listening to and respecting their stories, engaging with their art and literature of struggle and giving space for their pain and frustration.

Choice 3: Pursue cross-cultural friendships

Renewal leaders should pursue relationships with persons from cultures not their own.  A good place to begin is with a local pastor’s association.  Renewal leaders should also encourage their congregations to develop a significant relationship with at least one ethnic minority congregation in their community.

Choice 4: Preach and teach about justice and mercy

Renewal leaders must courageously speak about Scripture’s expectation for justice and mercy. This begins by keeping one eye on John 3:16 and another on Micah 6:8.  Preaching on justice and mercy comes with risks in some settings but renewal leaders know that avoiding difficult conversations is not an option.

Choice 5: Give voice and leadership to person’s of color

Renewal leaders know justice will never be attained through words alone.  Justice demands that leadership in the congregation is shared with persons from different classes, genders and ethnicity.  Nothing changes until a conscious decision is made to pursue greater diversity on staff and council.

Choice 6: Humbly acknowledge that you, too, are part of the problem.

The hardest choice renewal leaders make in pursuit of justice is to humbly name that they, too, are part of the problem.  Everyone has contributed to systemic injustice. Renewal leaders pray with David to see their hidden sins (Ps. 19:12).  It takes courage to say that the problem is not just in the world it is also in me.

Choice 7: Put a stake in the ground and do something

When it comes to justice renewal leaders should declare themselves.  Joining with others from your congregation on a peaceful protest walk is a good place to start.  Joining together in prayer for justice should be an expectation.  After declaring themselves, renewal leaders should use whatever influence the Lord has given them to actively address injustice.  The words of Proverbs 31:8-9 should be our guide:

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

The Center for Church Renewal is committed to assisting church leaders as they help congregations navigate new ministry realities.

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