An authentic and respectful approach is the path to effective advocacy. See your justice work as a great opportunity to bring your own lifestyle more in line with the values you hold dear.
Values and Practices
Try not to get attention for the wrong reasons. Be sure your advocacy aligns with the values you have as a church community.
- Say what you mean and mean what you say: clear communications and staying on message will help stem potential discrepancies in your campaign.
- Check your procurement practices: are you buying and serving fair trade or ethically sourced products where possible?
- Consider your organizational practices (hiring, decision-making, etc.): are they aligned with the values of your campaign?
Advocacy can be fun and we are encouraged to start with small steps. But serious advocates must be prepared to be in for the long haul. This is not a contradiction. The same Jesus who advises his hearers to choose the narrow gate and hard road (Matthew 7:13,14) also asks us to take His yoke for it is easy and the burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30). God is our help and our sustainer in this good work.
If you wonder whether small acts of advocacy can make a difference, look at the growth of the Fair Trade movement in Canada. From a fledgling cause picked up by a few faith-based groups and activists in Canada just over two decades ago, you can now find fairly-traded products in most major retailers. When we begin to speak up, decision-makers listen.
Today it is more possible than ever to ensure you are walking the talk as far as what you consume. Resources on ethical purchasing come on stream every day. Web search “ethical consumer” or start with World Vision’s Shopping for Change guide.
We see ourselves as standing in the gap. The Bible calls on us to use our voice to defend the weak and raise our voice for the voiceless. It is uncomfortable to do that sometimes. You can be looked down upon by the rest of the church world or greater society as standing for unpopular causes.
But we feel like it is something the Bible requires us to do. Ten years ago we would have filed complaints but been less likely to put our church’s neck on the line in the public arena. Now we do.Chris Randall, City Centre Church, Saskatoon, involved in campaigns addressing housing and youth/police relations in the inner city