5 things I am learning about social justice

PassionFest is going well. About 350-400 people here for this Christian based social justice festival. I spoke last night on 5 things I have learned and am learning about social justice. For those of you ask me to blog it, here they are.

1. We won’t solve the problems of our city by loving the poor but despising the rich. The poor need resources and the rich have resources. Lets bring them together.

2. We won’t solve the problem of hunger by throwing cans of food at people without empowering them to grow and cook their own food.

3. We won’t solve the problem of homelessness by sentencing people to a lifetime of unaffordable mortgage payments for a house that is too large for their needs and too expensive to heat or cool when we can offer sustainable building solutions and alternative residential communities.

4. We won’t solve the problem of unemployment by crippling people with student debt for a qualification that might not actually land them a job when we could assist them to become creative and successful entrepreneurs.

5. We won’t solve the problem of global poverty by sponsoring people to do nothing except to look poor and needy for our photos (somebody say mission porn) without freeing them to live sustainably, creatively and to put their gift into the world.

Last year was awesome also and I made a little video of PassionFest 2012



Andrew Jones launched his first internet space in 1997 and has been teaching on related issues for the past 20 years. He travels all the time but lives between Wellington, San Francisco and a hobbit home in Prague.


  • Excellent points! Last week while in Indonesia, we discussed at great lengths that the issue we need to pursue is Justice. As Jesus said, the poor we’ll always have with us but justice is the great equalizer and the element Jesus asks us to seek along with the ways of the Kingdom (Matt 6:33)

  • Eli says:

    thats for sharing. great points.
    some pushback on point 1. While we should definitely love all and not have prejudice just because of how much or little someone has… we should also avoid being naive about how the rich became rich generally speaking. The poor have things the rich often do not.

  • Andrew says:

    Eli, thanks for the pushback. This was the point I spent the majority of my message on. in a social justice setting, and in many mission projects among the poor, those who finance the initiative are important. we dont choose to all become rich and we dont give preference to the rich but we realize that reaching the whole city means including the rich also. we looked at jesus impact among both Jairus and the bleeding woman in Luke. We also mentioned Lazarus and Mary and Martha who had resources enough to support the ministry of Jesus. We are not told where they got their money but neither are we given reason to suspect corruption.

  • James says:

    Did you know that there is an entire religion devoted to Social Justice? Unitarian Universalism has roots in Christianity, but they aren’t Christian anymore. They are awesome at organizing around social justice issues.

  • Eric says:

    1. We can despise a system that promotes inequality…
    4. Australia has solved that problem by only requiring payment on student loans if you earn a large income. I may never have to pay for my degree.
    Many of your points reflect a growing understanding that there are root causes that need attacking. What we want is for competence and responsibility to be multiplied.
    Ron Sider in the 70s suggested a jubilee, a great redistribution. What is needed is for the haves to share with the have-nots – not what they have, but what they CAN – a sharing around of competence.
    Likewise much poverty in rich countries relates to disordered lives, and what people need is not a house but a home and a family with whom to learn to live. Many modern-day heroes of the faith are those who open their home to those who need a family.

  • Joanna says:

    I like your points. It is good to get the balance between preaching the gospel and being the gospel.

  • david says:

    1. the great ironly is that its the rich who funds non-profits orgs. and sits on their board. so you first statement is true.
    2. on number two, what country in context are you talking about giving can good but need to teach to cook and grow food?
    3. not sure what you mean “sentencing” people to unaffordable homes. i believe buying a home is voluntary. it is also a built by the desires of the market. so if the majority of consumers want bigger homes, they will build big. if majority want eco friendly homes, it will be made.
    5. wow, harsh. mission porn. gee i thought the james said we should take care of orphans and i thought sponsorship not only includes food but it comes education as well. i think u are saying is that more can be done. but knowing you i thought the trend for missions these days is to help with entrepruship.
    great thoughts to make us think skinny. keep up the good work.

  • Andrew says:

    thanks David
    on the homeless issue, i have seen the definition of success relating to getting a homeless person off the street and into a house with a cheap loan – homeless problem solved with one less body on the street but a new host of problems for the person with the mortgage and the mandate to suddenly earn a lot more money to pay for the mortgage. his problems are not over.
    sponsorship – we have ruined Africa and now India is showing the same outstretched hand. there is a better way
    and lets care for orphans but not assume that building another institution to provide orphan care is the best solution.

  • Andrew says:

    Jubilee would be awesome!!

  • david says:

    is it possible you elaborate in a future blog post. what is the best solutions to helping orphans? your thoughts or you have seen better models. i would think an orphanage is better than having kids.babies left on the street to fend for themselves.

  • tony sheng says:

    love this post tsk! hugs to your fam!

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