Sowing & Social Justice
The driving force of the Seventh-day Adventist church ...
Ask any church whether we should be involved in the community and you will get almost universal agreement. We want to help people. We know we should. But the question remains; do we?
I speak to churches all over and encourage them to be active in their community. It’s no good to have a loud voice, if we have invisible hands. Hispanic churches, in fact many churches have become FUBU churches—for us by us, and in the end—it’s just us. We must do better.
Churches that have the biggest impact in their community serve in 3 ways:
Charity- This level focuses on providing assistance for immediate needs. I would venture further and guess that most churches expend their efforts and budget in this level. Here are some examples of ministries that your church can provide to meet immediate needs:
Jesus said we will always have the poor with us, so it is perfectly biblical for churches to “do good.” We don’t want to eliminate charity, but we do want to enhance and expand it. I must question whether I am doing enough, when the same people come back week after week for the same needs. In order to break that cycle, consider two other levels of involvement.
Certification– A smaller percentage of churches provide training that can help a person improve their situation. ESL classes, job training, job fairs, computer skills training, are all examples of certification. The objective here is that the people that are in need can acquire skills and connections that can help them go to another level.
Change Systems– An even smaller percentage of churches work in this third level. This level works through word and deed to address systematic disparities that if improved or transformed can increase opportunities and decrease the probabilities of people continuing in vicious cycles of poverty, abuse and neglect for generation after generation. While we don’t tell a hungry person to wait five years while we change some laws before we can feed them, we also don’t isolate ourselves from lawmakers and institutions that can hinder the possibilities and lives of real people.
Social responsibility and using our influence and voice to address the abuse, injustice and systematic oppression is, not just an option, but a mandate.
Consider this powerful statement by Ellen White:
“A religion that leads men to place a low estimate upon human beings, whom Christ has esteemed of such value as to give Himself for them; a religion that would lead us to be careless of human needs, sufferings, or rights, is a spurious religion. In slighting the claims of the poor, the suffering, and the sinful, we are proving ourselves traitors to Christ. It is because men take upon themselves the name of Christ, while in life they deny His character, that Christianity has so little power in the world. The name of the Lord is blasphemed because of these things.”
Remember, churches that have the biggest impact in their community serve in 3 ways:
Level one: Charity- We want to give a person a fish. (sorry vegans, it’s just an illustration!)
Level two: Certification- We teach the person to fish.
Level three: Change systems- We work so that it’s possible for the person to own a lake with fish in it.
In part two, I’ll share 10 things you can do to strategically begin to address all three levels of social action. If you are a local pastor or leader, you can share them with your board or leadership team.
 Ellen G. White, Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing (Mountain View: Pacific Press, 1956), 137.