I’ve been part of some initial planning for an ecumenical Christian church service around the G20, and as such have been thinking about what might be the best response we can make to this event. Especially around the focus; what kind of topic do we focus on? What message do we want to come across to people?
My sense is that we need to provide people with hope that they can effect positive change. People have seen the G8 come and go with little or no apparent effect, so they are likely to be somewhat jaded, or even despairing. We therefore need to tell a different story.
I would actually like to see the campaign subvert the idea that the G20 has (ultimately) any power at all; rather, affirming that real power lies with God through us, the Body of Christ (physical expression of God’s activity in the world). Too idealistic? Too abstract? Too removed? Probably, and almost certainly for the average punter. But here’s where I’m coming from.
The MakePovertyHistory and Micah Challenge campaigns focus on getting those in power to effect changes on our behalf. As such, they essentially reinforce the status quo of needing to effect the “real powerbrokers” – governments. Yet Jesus fought relentlessly against this view that coercive power, or power over, as ultimate, and instead called people to servanthood, to being ‘last’. This, he maintained, is real power: suffering servanthood.
I wonder if there is a disconnect or even contradiction between our ends (a kingdom that is marked by servanthood, humility, voluntary personal suffering) and our means (celebrity speakers, focus on governments as the powerholders). MakePovertyHistory, in particular focuses on the need for us to beg our local MP or powerbroker to do the work for us. As such, a movement that is intended to be empowering (“you can make a difference…”) is ultimately disempowering (“…but only by influencing your MP!”)
I just think that as Christians we have little sense of the power of God, and of how we can access that power through sacrificial love. Or maybe it’s just a lack of preparedness for the consequences of that…I don’t know. But with a vision of that power…well, maybe that’s hope through empowerment. And that’s the message I’d like to give.