Do we as Christians really believe we are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14)? And what about Luke 12:48: "Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more." Is this how we live and relate to the world around us?
Jim Martin's book, "The Just Church" starts out by asking a lot of hard questions about the state of the church in America and how very comfortable we are in our safe, insulated world. This book is great on many levels. If you have never thought about the vast amount of injustice and evil in our world, or heard of organizations like the International Justice Mission, this book is for you. If you know about this topic, but are paralyzed by the thought that you can't "do" anything about it, this book is for you. If you are a pastor, in church leadership or member of a church and wondering how you could move your church forward in the area of Justice Ministry, this book is for you. Each chapter ends with questions to get you thinking deeper about the content of the book. Additionally the resources at the end of the book are very helpful.
Martin speaks to the fact that as we (as individuals or as a church) grow more affluent we do all we can to make ourselves more and more insulated. This causes us to look at the world and relate to it with a view of keeping our family and ourselves safe. When you inject the stark reality of violent oppression into the mix he says, "It's about deciding to peel back some of the layers of our insulation so that we begin to experience the world as it really is." He then offers some stark stories about horrible injustice in the world while also offering hope that we as the church can make a difference. He helps the reader see how they can "find their voice" in the fight against injustice. He offers great analogies and a basic step-by-step overview on how to take your church from thought process to actual ministry.
He shows that loving our neighbor includes those near and far from us, and that the church is God's plan to stop injustice. He also shows that fighting injustice is going to take churches into a place many have not gone before, but that will lead to a much deeper relationship with God as we see the world through His eyes. He says, "Responding to violent oppression will lead into direct and often shocking confrontation with real evil and complex need."
There is so much good contained in this book, especially this quote that has stuck with me and caused me to pray differently about injustice since reading it: "_subsequent experiences have left no doubt that many of the psalms (and many of David's in particular) are not abstractions; they are describing real life - the life lived by billions, indeed, the majority in our world today."
The horror of injustice and violent oppression around the globe is real, but YOU can make a difference.
With the recent resurgence within Evangelical churches towards social justice issues, Jim Martin's The Just Church comes as the guide we've needed. He resists sensationalizing horrific issues like bonded slavery, sexual abuse of minors and human trafficking while providing specific, Biblical rationale for engaging such modern-day evils.
Martin's book provides a wonderful blend of personal anecdotes, hard-worn wisdom from mobilizing his own congregation towards justice issues and action steps gleaned from years as International Justice Mission's lead in Church Mobilization. He's been there, seen the results of well-intentioned but short-lived or misguided emotional responses to combating evil, and explains a better way to do justice work.
With the heart of a discipler, he encourages fellow justice champions to embrace "faith failure points" as opportunities to lean hard into God's strength. As we proceed wisely into the pain-wrecked world of human injustice, Martin guides us into practical steps that have helped him weather those faith-testing times with grace.
The last half of his book provides a specific methodology for assessing engagement opportunities for one's local congregation, within one's community, and in finding a place to partner with those doing excellent work globally.
Thank you, Jim Martin, for sharing such a needed guidebook for churches to express God's heart for the oppressed.
The words of the prophet Micah are spoken in churches all over the world. Believers love this simple declarations of what Jesus asks of His people.
Christians try hard to walk humbly with the Lord. We strive to show mercy to people. However, we often ignore or struggle with the clause of "acting justly." Especially for Western Christians, the command for justice is flat-out missed or simply misunderstood.
There is a new move of the Spirit, awakening His people to the need to provide justice for those who cannot speak up for themselves, to proclaim freedom to the captives, to minister to the widow and orphan. It is a slow burn, but it is exciting to see the embers leaping into flame in various places of the body.
A new spark is being provided by the new book The Just Church by Jim Martin of the organization International Justice Mission (IJM).
IJM has been fighting for justice for many years now and is one of the leading organizations battling injustices like forced labor, human trafficking, sexual exploitation of women and children, and modern-day slavery in all its forms.
Jim Martin has been working with them after transitioning out of the pastoral role in his church, becoming a church liason with IJM. This experience made him especially qualified to write The Just Church.
This book is a challenge to the body of Christ to reclaim the lost aspect of Micah 6:8 and to actively act justly in the world. There are other books that try to awaken Christians to the need of justice and to expose the problems of modern slavery and other forms of bondage towards vulnerable peoples that is easy to overlook in our daily lives. The Just Church is a book that takes the church on journey to forming a viable justice ministry to compliment evangelism and mercy ministry.
The book is laid out in three sections. The first section establishes a theory that faith doesn't really grow without significant risk and suggests that justice ministry is a needed part of the church and can help develop a healthier discipleship in His people. The second section takes the reader through a practical journey on establishing a justice ministry in the local church. It isn't a step by step approach, allowing for the individual characteristics of any body guide the process. The last part of the book is a series of appendices with Scriptures on justice, resources for following through, and study materials. Each chapter ends with a QR code that can be scanned by a smart phone or tablet, leading to a video with Jim summarizing each chapter's main point.
It is well-written with an easy conversational style. Jim lays out the challenges inherit in this type of ministry and doesn't sugar-coat it. It won't be easy. But he recognizes the hope that is out there for people if Christians will rise up and stand in this gap, so the book is infused with this balance of challenge and hope.
Overall I am thrilled to have had a chance to read this book and see the new horizons coming in the fight against injustice. The need is starting to become known in the western Church. The Just Church takes the movement to the next step and provides a practical tool to those churches looking into how they can join in the justice ministry sphere. It isn't for special people. The Bible speaks very clearly about God's love of justice and it is every Christian's responsibility to see the threefold thrust of Micah 6:8 walked out in the world today.
The Just Church is a powerful tool in the battle against modern injustice. I highly recommend it.
If you've read about the widow's heartbreak when all she has left is taken by thieves, or listened to harrowing accounts of families forced into labor for their entire lives, or watched horrendous footage of very young girls working in brothels, you've likely experienced that spark of outrage igniting your protest at the injustice meted out to the helpless. Jim Martin's new book, "The Just Church" takes you after that emotional moment has passed, providing realistic steps for you, and your church, to answer God's call for biblical justice.
Beginning with his time as a pastor helping young girls in Peru, to his current role as Vice President of Church Mobilization for International Justice Mission, Jim Martin takes us along on his personal journey engaging the church to fight injustice, specifically when it manifests as violent oppression of the most vulnerable.
The Just Church is a timely guide for any church contemplating involvement in the fight against modern day slavery. Appealing to any and all, from larger churches with ministry resources, to those with smaller, more intimate congregations, The Just Church draws upon the experience of International Justice Mission. Working with hundreds of churches for many years, IJM has compiled the best practices of those who are successfully building, (and sustaining) biblical justice ministries, both locally and internationally.
In addition to providing the scriptural basis for God's mandate "to seek justice" Martin's book equips you and your church with a roadmap to navigate the phases of Encounter, Explore, and Engage. His strategic approach to "Becoming a Risk-Taking, Justice-Seeking, Disciple-Making Congregation" leaves little doubt that you will encounter "trouble." Stepping past the insulation of our everyday lives, and seeing people suffering in horrendous circumstance, could push our faith to a failure point. He shows us how the deliberate act of trusting God beyond that failure, which brings us closer to him, will ultimately deepen our faith.
The Just Church gives us insight into how heartfelt conviction for justice is not so much about the mission. It is truly about creating our discipleship. The link between justice and discipleship can deeply transform our lives. From any viewpoint, be it church leader, small group study, or the single individual who wants their church to dive into an active justice ministry, The Just Church gives you a solid strategy to answer God's call to fight injustice.
I've never written a book review before, but I am compelled to write this one.
If you have a heart for biblical justice, this book is for you. If you feel something is missing in the church, this book is for you. If you are a pastor or any type of ministry leader, this book is for you. And I will go as far as to say, even if you are not a person of faith, but are curious to understand why the church cares about justice, this book is for you.
Like a seasoned coach, Jim Martin shares the principles and truth of a just church, from his own experience in leading others as they "looked for trouble" to his role today coaching churches through International Justice Mission. The Just Church is a successful football playbook with notes and tips written in every margin. Each team's justice game will look differently, but Martin shares the fundamentals necessary for building a justice legacy.
Be forewarned, this book will likely wreck you. And you too will be compelled to get into the game with courage and humility.