In The Just Church, Jim Martin has issued a challenge, offered an invitation, and provided a map. This book is a much-needed wakeup call for many of us content with surviving in our insulated, westernized communities and churches. Not only does Martin show us how justice is, and should be, a vital part of who we are as Christians, but he also invites us into the fight while revealing that our greatest growth in our faith, both personally and corporately, happens when we step out, take risks, and are willing to fail. In fact, failure is encouraged because it's as we approach the failure point and find our own feet too weak to sustain us that true strength is developed. And so while the work of justice is by no means safe, when we as the church engage in it, the results can be explosive.
Martin closes each chapter with several questions, helping the reader to process what they have read and make an informed decision about what their next step is. And after presenting the case for failure, risk-taking, and the need for justice ministry, Martin walks readers through some practical ways to engage their church and community in the work of justice. While the task seems daunting, he closes with stories of churches that are living this out in some very practical ways. Some of these stories made me cry and others gave me chills, but there was on common thread: God is moving in the church and as congregations around the world are responding to His call, justice is rising up.
There is no doubt that we have been called to seek justice not just individually, but as a body. So whether you're in leadership in the church or you just have a heart for justice and long to see your church engage in it, this book is a must-have resource on your journey.
The Just Church is a very powerful, inspiring, and yet challenging book that will highly benefit the church today in it's efforts to confront injustice. The author Jim Martin was a pastor who now works for the International Justice Mission (IJM) as the VP of it's church mobilization unit. The IJM is renown for it's work in the fight against human trafficking and was highlighted recently by the president as a leader in the anti-trafficking movement.
Jim Martin wrote this book as a guide for church leaders and individuals who want to see their church engage in justice. His book is divided into two parts. Part 1 focuses on why we should be involved and reveals the interrelatedness of discipleship and justice. Part two provides a practical approach for churches to follow as they begin a justice ministry.
When we see injustice we often think of a place where evil is prevalent and God is silent and yet the author points out that it is actually there that God is at work and moving. Using the Scripture he makes the case that God cares about justice. The Scripture is replete with passages commanding us to watch out for the oppressed and yet somehow that message is missing from many of our churches today. He lovingly reminds us that God wants us "to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly" with Him (Micah 6:8).
Then he helps us face the challenge of how to literally put the call of justice ministry into action. The outrage we feel when introduced to the suffering caused by injustice often has us seeking an immediate solution. However the author points out that outrage and impatience are not enough to fuel the real battle we are facing. He says "what these victims really need is a church mobilized to engage for the long haul." The book offers very practical steps but it will require some time to implement them correctly. While it may not be an easy task if we are guided by humility, prayer, wisdom and love it will be a worthwhile one.
I pray that every church will step out and engage the issue of justice. Whether you feel your church is ready or not you should read this book. Jim Martin certainly makes a compelling and thoughtful argument for action.
The Just Church, by Jim Martin of International Justice Mission, provides an excellent foundation for the local Church to carry out the Biblical command to seek justice. With the basis of social justice grounded in scripture, this book will reignite the Church's passion for reaching those in need. Broken in two sections (Justice, Discipleship, & the Failure Point of Faith and The Justice Journey), The Just Church explores the journey from failure to joy while providing practical insight into the application of developing a just church structure.
In the first section, Justice, Discipleship, & the Failure Point of Faith, Jim Martin details the failure of faith through the story of Blair. In the quote below we can begin to understand the passionate pursuit that a true disciple of Jesus will take to expand his kingdom.
"God's gracious call to us is an invitation to pursue him out of our comfort zones and into a place where failure is a real possibilityâ€”perhaps even an inevitability. It's a call to follow God to places where dependence on him is a necessity. [_] To accept this invitation is to discover the work of justice is significantly about our own discipleship" (p. 10).
The reason for our personal discipleship is not to simply obey a command of God (Matt. 28:18-20), but rather to build his kingdom, bring him glory, and bring justice in an unjust world. In order to accomplish this we must grow our faith. "Faith grows most profoundly when it regularly encounters the failure point (50)" and "we grow faith not by sitting alone and trying to flex our faith muscles. We grow faith by putting ourselves in situations that will require faith of us" (49-50).
In the second section, The Justice Journey, Jim Martin expands the readers understanding of the process of spiritual formation. Through fueling our work, encountering the just God, discovering ones talent, need & call, and stepping out in faith instead of fear this book will "invite you on the adventure with God, who is in the habit of using the pilgrimage to transform the pilgrim" (234). With this in mind, if you find yourself drawn to social justice, the hurting world around you, or you simply want to fulfill the purpose of God on this earth The Just Church will equip you with the necessary vision and passion to begin pursing the mission of God. Moreover, "if you muster the courage to be faithful, what you will witness is God's unambiguously miraculous power to rescue and deliver. When that happens, a whole new kind of fear enters your soulâ€”an awe-struck appreciation for the God of justice who is able to do immeasurably more than you could ask or imagine" (192).