People are drawn to the gospel when they see Christians acting like Christ. This is the impulse behind many churches engaged in ministries of justice and mercy.
Julie Clawson, author of Everyday Justice, says, "Justice is not about causes or issues. It is about people.
It is about loving our neighbors as ourselves. When you are acting like Jesus with people they begin asking questions such as, 'Why are you doing this for us? Where is this love coming from?' Unfortunately so many people have developed such a negative perception of Christians as all talk and no deeds, that in these days if you just start talking about Christianity they will shut you down. But when we lead with acts of mercy, acts of justice, acts of love and we do it in Jesus' name, it opens a whole new realm of conversation."
Here's how three churches are putting justice, mercy, and the gospel into practice.
Tipp City, Ohio
• Weekly attendance: 4,500
• Multi-site, including house churches
• Association: United Methodist
Since 2004, Ginghamsburg Church has built 173 schools in Darfur that serve 22,000 students and have sponsored a sustainable agricultural project that has now helped to feed an estimated 80,000 Darfuris. The church has also built systems to provide clean water and sanitation.
Ginghamsburg's work in Darfur has not been without risk and danger. In the past year they have had one staff member shot and another kidnapped. However, the sacrifice and work is yielding fruit. Pastor Michael Slaughter tells of sitting with a group of Muslims just after the completion of a school. "Their question to me was, 'Why are you doing this? You're the church.' Now, by this time, we had been working there for three years ...