Recycling. Shopping ethically. Sponsoring a child. Volunteering at an afterschool program.
All of these are great justice actions that can make a real impact. They are also actions many of us take on our own or maybe with a friend.
But, have you ever asked if your church cares about justice issues?
Some of us don’t even consider it. May of us go to church on Sunday morning. We listen to a sermon. We talk to some friends. Then we leave, not to really think about church until the next church activity. Our church is not only the physical place where we meet each week; it is also the community of people with whom we surround ourselves and identify with.
Jesus and His followers provide us with an incredible example of what love looks like in action. Christ not only spoke about love, but lived that message, which was then adopted and incorporated into the first church community by Peter, Paul, and the other apostles. They healed the sick, helped the impoverished, and proclaimed lives of love and justice.
Though some churches are regularly involved in activities that impact real lives and help people in need, many other church communities may take up the mantle of justice every only once in a while. You might hear a message about helping the impoverished (or if you’re lucky an entire series), but it shouldn’t end there. There should be a seamless connection between how we talk about love and how we live out that love, just as there was when the Church began. If we are to truly care for our earth and love the people in it, we will be inspired to take action and seek justice for God’s people and creation.
Here are some ideas you can incorporate at your church right now to start living community lifestyle of justice:
It’s super easy and something you can incorporate this week. All you have to do is grab a box and put it near the doors/garbage can on the way out of the main room. Instead of people throwing away the parts of the bulletins they don’t need, they can toss it into the recycling box.
Go Fair Trade/Ethical
Only supply fair trade coffee at your church. Then expand to chocolate and beyond, because our consumption choices here in the States affects people around the world. You could also try out a fair trade pledge where each household in the community commits to going fair trade for a month! Take it a step further and encourage your congregation to shop completely ethically and invite others to join you in supporting ethical shopping.
Devote a Sunday to look at what it means to be a sacrificial giver (aka giving out of our substance rather than our excess). Encourage the congregation to try it out for a month, and the adopt it as a personal lifestyle and a church mission.
Volunteer as a Community
One of the churches I attended every year would cancel a Sunday service and instead would organize volunteer events in the community. Whether it was cleaning an elderly neighbor’s yard or building a garden for a local women’s shelter, we were in our community living out love and justice. Check out what your community needs are or take time to regularly volunteer assisting refugees or visiting the critically ill in hospitals or nursing homes (I recommend you learn how to play cribbage for those visits).
Create a Prayer Group
Start a group that focuses on praying about injustice and poverty around the world. Each month you can learn about and pray for different issues facing the world: clean water, famine, conflict, education, human trafficking, etc.
Visit your Elected Representative
Talk about social justice issues that are important to you all as a church community with an official who can enact change. You can contact
If your church is still figuring out what justice means for you as a community, check out Live Justly and pick up the church starter kit or small group starter kit. It can help you hone in on what justice means and how to live it out practically both individually and as a community.
Micah Challenge has also created a Church Justice Evaluation, designed as a tool to help you identify and celebrate your strengths in the realms of justice action as a church and improve upon any weaknesses. It’s meant to start a conversation and help you zero in on areas in which you and your church community can live out justice.
These small steps can make a huge difference in how your church community views and acts upon justice.
If you’re interested, you can also connect with the social justice movements within your denominations and help your church to be a part of whatever is happening. Here are a few (but there are a lot more! Check out your own denomination to get connected.)
Nazarene Church: Nazarene Compassionate Ministries
Wesleyan Church: Wesleyan Justice Network
Christian Reform Church: Office of Social Justice
Catholic Church: Catholic Relief Services
Vineyard USA: Vineyard Justice Network
United Methodist Church: General Board of Church and Society
Presbyterian Church: Presbyterian Hunger Program
Lutheran Church: Lutheran World Relief
I believe it is so important that Christians speak out to end injustices. Our voices together amplify issues affecting people around the world, and that creates change. Together, we create change.
is an activist and writer living in Portland, Oregon.