Editor's Note: In the book Gospel Justice, author and justice advocate Bruce Strom offers the following six steps for cultivating a Christian community that defends and cares more deeply for "the least of these" (Matt. 25:31–46). Churches can use these steps to work towards finding and responding to needs in their community.
1. Study the needs in your community. Understand the battlefield where you are called to serve. Visit a low-income service provider in your area. Go to Senior Services, the Salvation Army, Union Gospel Mission, or another provider. Talk to the directors and ask what systemic issues they encounter.
2. Take a field trip to your courthouse and watch the proceedings. You will immediately see the challenges faced by individuals caught in the system. Ask to meet with the chief judge to learn about the challenges faced by unrepresented individuals. Most judges are happy to come speak to a group, as they want to encourage community involvement. You can also do this with your state representative and senator. They will know many of the needs, and you will find them receptive to discussions about helping the community.
3. Study the Bible. Do a word study of justice. Study the Book of James. Explore God's heart for justice.
4. Learn the needs of our modern widow, fatherless, alien, and poor. For widows, do an internet search on financial exploitation and elder abuse. For the fatherless, search homeless children. For the alien, search immigration exploitation or trafficking. For the poor, search legal needs of the poor. You may be shocked to learn the depth of need in America, and the lack of resources.
5. Pray. Once you know the needs, begin to pray regularly for them. Pray for wisdom in how you might address the needs, pray for others to join you, and pray for the hearts of all those involved. Prayer is our greatest weapon in the battle against injustice. Do not think of it as perfunctory. Prayer moves mountains that cannot be moved by human effort.
6. Get going. Start by examining what you have learned. Look at the service ministries in your church or community and seek common threads of need. Pull together a planning group and establish a goal. Make it specific. For example: “By the end of the year we will launch a gospel justice center alongside our children’s ministry to educate and advocate for the needs of homeless children in our school district.”
This post is adapted with permission from the book Gospel Justice by Bruce Strom (Moody Publishers, 2013).
To explore the best ways to keep your church safe and legal and as you serve immigrant communities, see the downloadable resource Immigration & the Church.
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