Just had the privilege to spend the weekend with thousands of people passionate about serving God through Justice ministry. The fourth Justice conference took place in Los Angeles this weekend. It’s an exciting progressive event bringing together Christians from across the US to engage on a range of justice issues.
1. Justice is Bigger than You Think
In many of the conversations about justice in the evangelical community the main focus is on the important issue of people trafficking. But it was refreshing to hear about the broader justice issues such as: access to education, gender equality, racism, global hunger, consumerism, community organising, immigration reform, civil disobedience, mass incarceration, sexual violence and environmentalism.
2. Generosity and Hospitality
The Justice conference is the brainchild of Ken Wystima the president of Kiln college and is now owned by the aid agency “World Relief.” In a highly consumerised and commercialised environment sadly there is often a competitive relationship between different Christian agencies. So there was something exciting to see World relief host the CEO of World Vision, workers from Compassion, EnditNow and a whole bunch of other agencies being given place on the stage. These are in human terms competitors for donors but there is a sense of community and hospitality here which is really encouraging.
3. Multi generational
There is a very interesting range of ages here. There are some very cool looking hipsters with a lot of facial hair (the guys that is). There are also older; but I am sure no less hip people here too. I would say 50% of the people that have come are young adults in the 20-30s age range. This is an exciting mix of – which bodes well for the future of the church.
4. Engage the Arts
On the first evening I went to my first Poetry Slam which is a spoken word competition which has a very young, urban feel to it. Most of the contributors were young black men. It was a very moving and engaging event. It brought an interesting cultural mix to the event. The slam poets also took part in between the talks which gave a real emotional punch to proceedings.
Check out this promotional video for the event from the excellent Michael Bournes and Propaganda.
There were also some fantastic musicians that took part – Jars of Clay, The Brilliance, Gungor and Josh Garrels. It added a very different vibe to the event. So although there was no sung worship and very little corporate prayer – the music changed the dynamic of the event. There was also some excellent live street art going on:
5. Guard your Heart
Martin Luther King’s daughter Dr Bernice King spoke at the event and was one of a number of speakers that challenged the conference to not just be sad about injustice or mad about injustice but to keep a soft heart and let love be the dominant tone in which we challenge the injustices in our world. I found that a very helpful corrective as I often come across people who have got a particular justice agenda but the way in which they carry it out is marked more by anger than love. Those that oppose them are demonised rather than sacrificially loved. It was powerful to hear Martin Luther King’s daughter talk so passionately about the need to love those that don’t just disagree with you but hate you. She left us with a prayer:
“May God bless you with anger at injustice without hate and hostility”
6. Diversity Matters
I enjoyed hearing women and men, black and white and latino speakers, artists, lawyers, CEOs and pastors. It was very encouraging to hear such a fantastic range of people with such wide experience. The only challenge for me was the need to hear more global voices – especially as there was a stream of conversation around global injustice.
So thank you Justice Conference for your hospitality and inspiration. It was great to meet up with old friends and to make new ones. Looking forward to working out how to implement all that I have heard in my situation back in the UK.