The Justice Generation
While some ministries may use justice projects as a convenient lure to reach a socially aware generation, there are some who are doing the hard work of spiritually forming these young adults for the long haul. Cathedral of Joy in Richland, Washington, is one example. They intentionally guide their students into a lifestyle of justice ministry through laying deep biblical foundations and intentional spiritual formation.
High school seniors at Cathedral of Joy enter an intensive study and action experience. Each Sunday they attend meetings led by fellow students to work through a book on the intersection of faith and justice, and the youth pastor teaches on subjects such as the role of prayer in justice ministry. The seniors are guided to take sermon notes, engage in weekly devotions, contribute to service projects in their local community, and write reflection papers on what they are learning about themselves, God, and the world.
Throughout the year they also lead events for their church community such as "The Justice Fast" and "The Weekend to End Slavery." Thus the students help the entire church understand biblical justice and create ways to take action. Their year culminates with a trip to Washington, D.C., to meet with IJM staff, provide volunteer help, and attend IJM's Global Prayer Gathering.
By incorporating justice into the spiritual formation program for their students, Cathedral of Joy is making justice more than a fad. By combining Bible study, spiritual disciplines, and practical experiences, they ground students' interest in justice more firmly. This means these students are more likely to bear fruit for decades as they lead the church's mission effort beyond their high school years.
Tim Keller teaches that "justification by faith leads to justice, and justice leads to people coming to faith." As we disciple this generation to embrace both justification and justice rooted in Scripture and the character of God, it will result in the advancement of the gospel.
Slaves like Ammani and Sabari need justice in the form of freedom before they can access the remarkable resources that exist all around them-resources that include the gospel ministry of the church in their region. Ammani and Sabari, and the 27 million other slaves in the world today, are why we must be intentional about making justice a part of discipleship training for this generation.
Bethany Hoang is director of the IJM Institute for International Justice Mission in Washington, D.C.
Copyright © 2010 by the author or Christianity Today/Leadership Journal.
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