Your teenage church members talk passionately about stopping human trafficking, but the senior adults equate “social justice” with “Social Gospel.” In between, your Forty-Somethings know the church ought to be doing more about our dysfunctional society but can’t figure out how to get a handle on the dizzying array of massive problems.
What’s a pastor to do?
Enter Multiply Justice, a one-stop web portal focusing on biblical justice: what it is, how it’s created, and where to get started.
The new service launched this month offering a range of content that explains what biblical justice is and features stories that show how justice is created in communities, according to site editor Mark Kelly. The site also highlights resources — books, film, and curricula — that help church leaders teach about biblical justice and a list of organizations that can help churches get involved in justice ministries.
The site still has a ways to go before it is full featured, however.
“Multiply Justice is a work in progress. There are so many urgent issues that we didn’t feel we could wait to launch,” said Kelly, who served as editorial director of Purpose Driven Network from 2004 to 2007 and now serves as media strategist for the Baptist Global Response relief and development organization. “The upside of our building it out on the fly is that gives pastors an opportunity to shape it to meet their needs.”
Churches are faced with a young generation — collegians, high schoolers, even elementary-age children — deeply moved by the suffering they see in the world and convinced God expects His people to both help people with basic needs like food and shelter and also change social systems that cause unjust or unnecessary suffering, Kelly said.
On the other hand, older church members were raised under six decades of preaching that focused primarily on “spiritual” salvation with an added emphasis on compassion ministries, Kelly noted. Those church members want nothing to do with the “social justice” secular activists demand on the evening news.
“Many of those same older church members, however, would be ready to help build an orphanage that keeps at-risk children off the streets of Mexico City,” Kelly said. “We all understand at some level that Micah 6:8 says God requires us to ‘do justice’ and that Jesus said in Matthew 25 the people going to heaven in the end would be those who personally helped ‘the least of these.’”
Even though problems like extreme poverty, sex trafficking, and extreme poverty are massive, they are not beyond solution, Kelly added.
“That’s the whole point of Saddleback’s PEACE Plan,” Kelly said. “Injustice is hardly ever a simple situation, at either the individual or national level, and complex problems require comprehensive solutions. The PEACE Plan marshals the major segments of a community to battle the five ‘giants’ that afflict communities. Maybe you can’t rescue all the children at risk from mosquito-borne disease or sex traffickers, but in partnership with others you can knock down systemic injustice and make a real difference for multitudes of suffering people.”
Multiply Justice offers a forum where pastors who want to lead their people to address justice issues can interact with those who are already doing it, and find the resources and partners to help them get started, Kelly said.
“We’ve had an initial conversation with two nationally known men’s ministries about hosting a conference where we could hash out the challenges we face in mobilizing God’s people to meaningfully engage justice issues,” Kelly said. “We would love to hear from pastors interested in dialogue, who want to contribute sermons on justice, or offer suggestions about helpful books, curricula, music, and films that address justice issues.
“Many people recoil at the phrase ‘social justice,’ because it has been hijacked by self-appointed Robin Hoods who want to steal from the rich, give to the poor — and make themselves rich in the process,” Kelly said. “But that doesn’t change the fact that the Bible clearly says social justice is both God’s earnest desire and His righteous demand of His people.
“The ‘shalom’ God promises His people is essentially about relationships. Even if the girl chained to a brothel bed or the boy dying of malaria is half a world away, they are still my little sister and brother,” Kelly said. “We want Multiply Justice to be a place where people can learn how to successfully attack these enormous problems, where leaders who have learned hard lessons about helping people in need can share with others who want to get their people involved.”
Multiply Justice is located on the Internet at www.multiplyjustice.net. Pastors interested in learning more can contact Mark Kelly via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.