Urban church action is often limited to witness and welfare.
Witness action focuses on evangelism. Put simply, the measure of a church is how many people it can get through the church doors. Here, the community is changed as believers come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. This strategy responds to the 'more believers, less crime' approach.
The welfare model recognises the importance of acting justly in the community beyond being a good neighbour and paying taxes. It engages in welfare projects designed to assist those in need. The 'clean up the mess' approach. Both these approaches fail to get to grips with the complexity of the theology required to respond to systemic failure.
Beckford articulates ‘prophetic action’ as a legitimate response to systemic failure.
The model of the biblical prophet inspires prophetic action. The prophetic is fundamentally an expression of the will of God revealing how things should be. It is also an ethical quest to restore human dignity and accountability and is always wedded to justice.
Beckford, R. (2004). God and the Gangs: An Urban Toolkit for Those Who Won't Be Sold Out, Brought Out or Scared Out.
The prophetic is fundamentally an expression of the will of God revealing how things should be. It is also an ethical quest to restore human dignity and accountability and is always wedded to justice.
Ahh maybe that is what is missing...perhaps its time for the real prophets to stand up.
Not the 'I've a picture for you...' kind of prophets; not the 'God is saying don't worry it's going to be alright' kind of prophets; not the 'all you need to do is...' kind of prophets; not the 'you need to get back to how you used to do it' kind of prophets; not the 'you've missed the point' kind of prophets; not even the screaming 'I make you feel so judged and guilty because you are not quite as righteous as me - mainly because you don't agree with me' kind of prophets....
Perhaps it's time to rediscover the prophetic voice that screams at the top of its voice "justice...hope...freedom" and demonstrates it through authentic grace, love and mercy.
Perhaps that is the voice that the emerging church needs to hear.
Perhaps that is the voice we all need to hear?