Building a Just Church

by | 13 Feb 2014 | 2 comments

Building a Just Church

by | 13 Feb 2014 | 2 comments


I was surprised to learn recently that being poor isn’t defined primarily by how much or little money a person has.

Poverty is about how dysfunctional or broken a person’s matrix of relationships is – with family, government, community, neighbours, those in authority, God.

The resulting isolation excludes them from all things that bring meaning and life and hope. Of course resources and money are part of this, but not the sole or even main driver of what we describe as poverty.

I’m often disappointed to see Christians and churches supporting apparently worthwhile causes that I know address only a narrow range of factors in the matrix of dysfunction. Too often we go for what is “sexy” and has a high “feel good” factor, and allows us to feel as if we are making a difference, rather than a project that has a longterm sustainable approach to addressing the range of issues that allow people to become more human.

My intent and prayers for Just Church, a March gathering at the intersection of faith, justice, worship and arts, is that people will leave the South Auckland venue knowing that God has spoken to them; that they know where to find the resources to guide and sustain them in their engagement with injustice globally, locally and personally; and how their community of faith can build for the Kingdom.


Just Church has no high-profile imported speakers. It has a wide range of local people with loads of knowledge and experience, some artists and poets, a group of Kiwi worship curators doing worldclass work in public places and in church worship, all of whom will be available for engaging with and questioning.

I’d love to meet you and to have you contribute to the conversation.


Mark Pierson – Worship Curator, ex-school teacher, ex-Baptist pastor, author (The Art of Curating Worship, The Prodigal Project, Fractals for Worship), writer, speaker on things worship and the arts, currently Christian Commitments Manager World Vision NZ, sustained by the community at The Upper Room, Auckland.

Author: Mark-Pierson

Mark is a husband, father, grandfather, and curator of worship spaces and worship events. A school teacher and Baptist pastor in previous lives, he currently works with World Vision New Zealand as Christian Commitments Manager.

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  1. Mark-Pierson

    Rachel I think its a matter of having a long term and broad view. We are here to build for the Kingdom of God in all we do in every aspect of our lives as we seek to follow Jesus.

    That will involve responding to injustice wherever we see it – in our street, playground, city, country etc. We cannot walk by on the other side and hope it will go away. The Good Samaritan story is a great story for reminding us of the broadness of our “neighbourhood” but its a very poor (and never intended to be) model of development and change. The GS acted from mercy and charity. He did nothing about advocating for better lighting on the road to Jericho, or improvements to the security of the area.

    So in NZ we must do acts of mercy and charity – feed children who end up lunches at school – and we must also lobby government to address the causes of that. It is government role to ensure the wellbeing of the people it governs. So a long term view as we’ll as the acts of mercy.

    Long term advocacy and putting of responsibility back where it belongs is harder work and has less “feel-good” factor than buying lunch for a child, or rescuing a women from the sex trade. So we tend to focus on the latter. We also want quick results and to be able to report to “donors” that the wall has been painted and the building constructed. Never mind that we have spent $1000’s flying to the wall, and deprived local people of income and experience. We are satisfied with feeling good because we have done good. We are not building for the Kingdom in those actions. We are acting selfishly and responding to our own brokeness.

    I am very hesitant to name specific projects as everyone acts from the best motives they can muster. I just wish churches had a better understanding of how development works and how they can really change the world – making a world fit for children to play in is the phrase we use often at World Vision.

    I’d love to see more church communities committing themselves to 15 years (even 5!) of financial, prayer, visiting, learning, and skill-sharing support of an overseas community living in extreme poverty. They would literally see the wold changing.

    At Just Church we will be exploring development models and looking at their application in a Kiwi setting.

  2. Rachel

    HI Mark, so can you provide any examples of where Christians and Churches should be investing into for long-term sustainable solutions to mitigating poverty?

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