A few weeks ago I re-watched the amazing film Selma, based upon the political fight of Martin Luther King to ensure that the local and national government systems were changed in order that black people could vote in safety and freedom.
In the narrative, King and his entourage went to Selma, a town chosen as this is where the fight for equality was at its tensest. He met with the Student groups who had worked amongst the grassroots groups & communities to raise the profile and help in individual cases. There was some initial conflict between the student group leaders who’d worked tirelessly locally and the arrival of King to the area as an outsider working for the same cause but from a political perspective. The conversation was fascinating.
King; “what you (the student leaders) have been doing is raising the black consciousness (of the voting issue) and this is commendable – what I want to do is raise the white consciousness”
Today the Guardian published an article arguing that faith/belief adherence is falling compared to the Christians- you can see it Here.
One argument is that the church needs to advertise that it exists more – advertise, promote itself for what it is. A problem with this that i see is that whilst faith is an individual pursuit, it is still an individual choice, a choice that people opt out of, as much as they might be opting into. It takes sometimes a huge number activities to convince people to become part of the faith community as a collective of individuals.
However, this doesn’t raise the ‘non-church’ consciousness much does it?
So – what is the best way to raise the non church consciousness?
- Have leaders that challenge the powers, and act towards the weak. The current Pope for example.
- Be the kind of church that is appropriate for what the world needs (see my previous blog)
- Be the kind of church that invests in people and realises their gifts
- Be the kind of church that acts practically, challenges prophetically and creates a better world
- Loves its Neighbour, its literal neighbour, and also its friends.
What i’m suggesting is that if the church fought for people, became the cause that gathered momentum, became the movement that transformed society as a whole, and not just its adherants. The Church that gave life and life to all its fullness. Its services became rallies, its fellowship became stories of passion and suffering for others, its prayer was towards hope, with the weak. Its songs ignited passion of the Gospel Drama, and the God of the future world.
In short it raises the non-church consciousness by devoting its energies to world transformation, joining in with God already at work where others love the community, joining in with causes that challenge, and gives reasons beyond personal faith to believe in a God who is for and with people, a cause for people to fight for that is inspired by the God of Justice, of love and mercy (and not just sing of them) and is in all things working towards the final act of Shalom.
Raising the non-church consciousness, that is the challenge of the church.