If we want to be a church that isn't just about what happens on Sunday ... to a community of people who are being Christ in the world. Like Christ we want to give preference to the poor, weak and lonely and a people that can admit that sometimes that is us!
How do we engage in a positive way with those around us and with one another? Chris Howson's article talks about the EARS model - ‘Educate’, ‘Act’, ‘Reflect’ and ‘Sustain’. I have borrowed (see below) from his explanation - but urge you to read the full article. 'A Just Church': Educating, Acting, Reflecting and Sustaining - Article for Magnet Magazine
The commonest reason for congregations not engaging with social issues around them is that they do not feel qualified to talk about the issues or do anything about them. People on the whole do not have the time and resources to do enough research into issues and so don’t feel they can engage with the subject matter.
Most churches can take an issue and learn about it, but the really interesting test is whether they are able to translate that discussion into practical action. It is one thing to learn about the issues facing refugees and those seeking sanctuary. It is quite another to open up English language classes or house destitute asylum seekers.
This is the purest test as to whether your church is able to deal with the changes it sees around it. Can it actually act to either bring change, or find a just solution to a problem?
Once your church has engaged in action there is then the need to pray and reflect on what has been achieved or not achieved. Is the Food Bank really challenging why the people are hungry? Is the debt advice work enabling the congregations to tackle the companies who are causing the debt, or are people continuing to ‘blame’ the person in debt for not having the skills to get out of their situation? Prayer and thought must go into our actions, or we could make matters worse.
If any campaign is worth doing, it needs to be sustained. If the Suffragettes had given up after the first ten years of struggle, then women would not have the vote today. Some campaigns are going to be long and full of frustrations and defeats. How does the Christian Church prepare people for that?
Do you think we could apply this to Church in Progress thinking?