Join Christians for Peace & Justice Advocacy Network
Christians for Peace & Justice is an EMO advocacy network consisting of individuals, congregations and religious organizations united from different denominations from across the state committed to advocating for social justice as witnesses to the public policy process on a state and national level.
To learn more, or if you or your congregation/organization are interested in joining Christians for Peace and Justice, download brochure.
Read the letter of endorsement for Christians for Peace & Justice advocacy network by the Rev. Jim Wallis.
Tips for Building Your Congregation’s Peace & Justice Program:
1) Share, share, share. A successful program shares the pains and joys of planning, organizing and implementing activities. A meeting culture that emphasizes co-ownership and sharing over group processes and outcomes is critical. To that end, meetings should be about planning activities. Before every meeting, a meeting goal should be set ahead of time (e.g., “Before we end this meeting, we will have decided on …”). This keeps meetings focused and on track. Consider assigning roles and duties for setting up meetings and always, always, assign homework for people to do no matter how small. This is how you create co-ownership. Adult forums and speakers are fine, but that should be something your committee plans for the congregation at large. Forums and speakers should be a by-product of your peace and justice planning.
2) Recruit, recruit, recruit. A successful program is one that attracts new people, is relevant to your congregants and builds new leaders. Categorize the types of people you want to recruit (e.g., the “planners,” the “doers,” the “I can only help once in awhile” types and people with certain skills such as legal, computer, accounting, writing, marketing, etc.). Once you categorize the types, you can be much more strategic in your recruiting (i.e., you can plan events that will bring prospective people).
3) Set tangible, realistic and measurable goals. There’s nothing more demoralizing than an ever moving goalpost that has not been clearly defined. This means you must define ahead of time what success looks like, when it should be accomplished and who will carry it out. Consider posting calendars or timelines before every meeting to keep people on task and focused. Pick issues that are deeply felt at your parish. These are the kinds of issues that resonate with people’s faith deeply. Also break down big issues in bite-sized chunks. For example, if you are concerned with hunger, pick an aspect of hunger that you can tackle such as volunteer service, a letter writing campaign, meeting with local businesses or elected officials, food stamp outreach, school nutrition, summer food programs, etc.
4) Make it Fun. Peace & justice work doesn’t have to be so serious that you can’t enjoy yourselves. Conduct your activities around food such as letter writing parties, hold a church play about justice, plan an art project and fund raiser for the church featuring children’s artwork on the theme of peace. Be creative. Remember, peace & justice is about building a movement and changing your personal lifestyle to promote the common good. It takes time, and it requires a bit of levity to sustain ourselves.
5) It’s all about relationships. Remember, the reason we are doing this is because we want to build community, and through that we experience the Divine, the sense of purpose in life that is greater than ourselves. It’s relationships with each other and it’s a relationship with Christ. Take time at each function to get know each other better.
Meeting facilitation and Group Process:
Kaner, Sam. Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision-Making. (Canada: 1996). New Society Publishers.
Bobo, Kim. Organizing for Social Change: A Manual for Activists in 1990s. (Santa Ana, CA: 1991). Seven Locks Press.
Jacobsen, Dennis. Doing Justice: Congregations and Community Organizing. (Minneapolis: 2001). Fortress Press.