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Slow Kingdom Coming

Topic - Learning & Serving Well in the Work of Justice

Aim

To learn five faithful practices for doing justice work and to be able to implement them in your own context.

General Information

We are invited to be a part of deep, lasting change–the slow kingdom coming. As we work for justice, we can press on with a hope that is both patient and urgent. God calls us in many ways to participate in God's kingdom work. No matter your vocation, these practices can help to guide, inspire, and sustain you in your work.

Attention

Attention allows us to see the injustices around us and hone in on what God is calling us to address (Is. 1:17). There are three parts to practicing attention: awaken, focus, attention.

  • At some point, we awaken to injustice around us and give attention to the voices calling out for justice.
  • When this happens, we need to focus our attention on what God has called us to. This means we know our yes–which means we say no to other worthwhile things.
  • Finally, we need a rhythm of renewal, which helps us keep our focus.

Reflect: How have you awoken to injustice? What is God asking you to focus on? How are you allowing yourself to be renewed?

Confession

Confession gives us the right posture to enter into justice work. We need to be transformed even as we seek to make the world more just.

  • Our confession includes recognizing a vulnerability or problem, both in ourselves and the broken relationships around us, and then acting to rectify it (Matt. 7:3-5).
  • It's a gradual process of being healed and helping others heal (James 5:16).
  • Confession leads to freedom and restores relationships, which helps us to serve others.

Reflect
Take time to reflect and confess to God what is or may get in the way of your serving others. How have you seen confession be beneficial in the past?

Respect

Respect slows us down as we humbly enter another's situation.

  • If our goal is to move people into more respectful circumstances, we need to have respect at every step along the way.
  • Listen to learn, and first focus on being rather than doing (James 1:19).
  • Imagine what it is like being in their shoes, and inform your imagination by forming personal relationships.
  • Promote the rights and freedoms of the people you work with.

Reflect: In what ways are you slowing down to listen to and learn from those you serve? How have you seen this build respect between you?

Partnering

Partnering reminds us to work with, not for, those we serve.

  • We recognize their God-given agency, making sure our actions do not patronize or lead to codependency (1 Cor. 3:5-6).
  • Together, we step into what God is already doing. This looks like:
    • Using wisdom (Proverbs 29:24)
    • Building trust by being transparent, honest, and respectful
    • Recognizing and using the agency of everyone involved
    • Opening our eyes to what God is already doing and inviting us into.

Reflect: What do your partnerships look like? How are you building trust? How do you recognize and promote the agency of those you work with?

Truthing

Truthing involves checking big-picture assessment against the reality on the ground.

  • It’s an iterative process that keeps us humble and accountable in our work.
  • Truthing frees us from fear of being wrong. Instead, we realize that we won’t always be right and can be free to continue learning and improving as we learn.
  • Truth is not an inanimate thing, but a word of active following after what Jesus said: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).

Reflect: When is a time that you had to adjust your approach due to an act of truthing? What was the outcome? How do you practice truthing? How would you like to see it done in the future?

Other Resources

  • Slow Kingdom Coming by Kent Annan
  • Confessions: The Posture for Engaging in Justice Work (HDI Tipsheet)

CITATION: Annan, K. (2016). Slow Kingdom Coming: Practices for doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly in the world. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Download a PDF of this Slow Kingdom Coming tipsheet