Just Mission


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Just Mission draws upon the increased activism of local churches and links it to effective use of democratic processes to achieve justice for the people with whom they have a pastoral relationship. It seeks to explain in a straight forward and theologically-based way, how they can undertake that task based upon the pastoral work that arises from their social action and evangelism.



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Published 01 June 2015
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EAN13 9780334052319
Language English

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Just Mission Practical Politics for Local Churches
Helen Cameron
© Helen Cameron 2015 Published in 2015 by SCM Press Editorial office 3rd Floor Invicta House 108-114 Golden Lane, London EC1Y 0TG SCM Press is an imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd (a registered charity 13A Hellesdon Park Road Norwich NR6 5DR, UK www.scmpress.co.uk All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher, SCM Press. The Author has asserted her right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as the Author of this Work Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. British Library Cataloguing in Publication data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library 978 0 334 05229 6 Typeset by Regent Typesetting Printed and bound by CPI Group (UK Ltd, Croydon
Acknowledgements List of Figures Introduction 1. How Can Mission Be Just? 2. How Can Politics Be Practical for the Local Church? 3. What Is the Burning Issue? 4. Building the Team 5. Building the Case for Change 6. Engaging with the Christian Tradition 7. Identifying Who You Need to Speak to and What You Will Ask 8. Making Contact 9. Amplifying Your Voice 10. Evaluating Your Impact
Conclusion: Being Changed as Well as Seeking Change Appendix 1 Being Political while Staying within the Law Appendix 2 Working with Denominations and Agencies Appendix 3 Reading the Book in a Small Group Appendix 4 Further Reading Bibliography
Leading the Public Affairs Unit of the Salvation Army has given me the chance to work with enthusiastic and knowledgeable colleagues from whom I have learned a great deal. It is an immense privilege to represent the front-line work of the Salvation Army and to have as colleagues the headquarters teams that provide support. It is also a joy to have ecumenical colleagues with whom one can collaborate and who take a range of approaches to public affairs work that I feel complement one another. This book has been written during a busy time professionally, and so I have needed two periods of round-the-clock support to focus on writing, one courtesy of Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre and the other courtesy of my husband. At a key moment in the writing of the book, I was able to share some of my work with the Professional Doctorate in Practical Theology Summer School. Being interviewed by Stephen Pattison helped to confirm my commitment to be a practising practical theologian. I am grateful to two readers who read and commented on the whole text. Needless to say the responsibility for what has emerged is mine. My thanks to Graham Stacey for the diagrams and cover and to Phil Coull for the indexes. I appreciate the collaborative way of working of SCM Press, and in particular Natalie Watson, who is a great source of encouragement.
Figure 1 Stakeholders in policy-making Figure 2 Policy cycle Figure 3 Policy cycle in reality Figure 4 Justice-seeking cycle Figure 5 Political cycle Table 1 The distribution of discretion
List of Figures
This book is written to act as a catalyst for local churches that are coming across examples of injustice and want to do something about it. It challenges local churches to read the signs of the times in their community and act upon their concerns in a way that will bring about change. I am writing both for those who feel impotent in the face of injustice and those who are unsure whether the Church should have anything to do with politics. I will argue that mission and justice cannot be separated. I want to show how small ‘p’ politics can be a practical activity for the local church.
Reading the context
The period of austerity triggered by the financial crisis of 2008 has moved many churches to a compassionate response that gives direct and practical help to their neighbours in need. This response has taken many forms but includes things like debt advice, job clubs, community cafes and food banks. Social action projects have always been part of the life of the local church but there is a fresh sense of urgency about meeting need. Over the last decade a new and innovative wave of evangelization has led many local churches to build relationships with those who have no faith or whose faith is nominal. In the Roman Catholic tradition there have been new groups formed around particular devotional practices or liturgies (Sweeney et al. 2006). In the Anglican and Free Church traditions new forms of church called ‘fresh expressions’ and ‘emerging churches’ have engaged with people through a shared cultural identity rather than a particular place (Shier-Jones 2009). The numbers of diaspora churches have increased rapidly, often with an intention of evangelizing their neighbours (A. Rogers 2013). These new relationships, initiated through evangelization, have increased understanding of the way people live and the joys and sorrows of their lives. A growing number of churches are offering chaplaincy to local secular institutions who value a pastoral presence at the heart of their work. This has included chaplaincy to shopping centres, sports teams, residential homes, as well as local schools and colleges (Slater 2015). What these changes to the mission of the local church have in common is that they have led to a greater understanding of the reality of ordinary people’s lives and the way that the services and systems they rely upon can either support or frustrate them in their desire to live well. An example would be groups, like Street Pastors,1provide pastoral care to young people enjoying the night-time economy. An older that generation of Christians has learned about the lives of young people who might not usually come into their church buildings. So developments in social action, evangelization and chaplaincy have, for many local churches, intensified their awareness of the lives of their neighbours and made friends of those who would formerly have been strangers to the life of the church. Church members have also become aware of the impact of austerity through their own working lives, families and volunteering. The social structures within which we live are changing. Whether you think of health, education, employment, utilities, welfare benefits, housing or the other things we rely upon, the systems that make them happen have become increasingly complicated and fragmented. Sometimes it is unclear whether a problem is due to incompetence or lack of resources or whether a whole group of people is being disadvantaged by an unfair system.2While some organizations are highly responsive, it can often feel that the effort involved in sorting things out is exhausting. It can be easy to forget that we live in a democratic society where at the end of the day, every significant system that people rely upon should be ultimately accountable to a politician. If it is a public service, no matter who delivers it, if the funding is coming from government, there is political accountability. If it is something delivered by a private company or a charity, then there should be some regulation in place and recourse for unfair treatment. In the final resort, there is the tribunal and legal system. In a democratic society there should be somewhere for frustration to express itself and seek justice. It is a strange paradox that as anxieties grow about war and violence in countries that do not have democratic governance, so engagement with our own democratic processes continues to wane (Stoker 2006). Trust in politicians is low and so there is apathy about what democracy can deliver. For some