Q&A: <i>Why</i> We Do What We Do

Q&A: Why We Do What We Do


Dr. Gooder is a writer and lecturer in biblical studies. Her research areas focus on the writings of Paul the Apostle, with a particular focus on 2 Corinthians and on Paul’s understanding of the Church Body. Her passion is to ignite people’s enthusiasm for reading the Bible today by presenting the best of biblical scholarship in an accessible and interesting way. Gooder works full-time for the Church of England as the director of mission learning and development in the Birmingham Diocese.

Q: How can we help the UK Church stand with some of the world’s most vulnerable communities (the homeless, elderly, children, refugees, etc.) and demonstrate together the difference that faith is making? 01

How can we help the UK Church stand with some of the world’sI’m not sure that this is quite the right question: Up and down the country, churches and members of churches are working hard in food banks, night shelters, lunch clubs, before and after school care, toddlers and pre-school clubs as well as caring for refugees in a variety of ways. In my view, what we need to do is to get better at talking about why Christian faith motivates us to show the love of Christ in the world—the ‘why we do what we do’ question. It is this that will help those outside the Church to understand us better and will remind Christians that this kind of action is an integral and fundamental part of our life in Christ. most vulnerable communities (the homeless, elderly, children, refugees, etc.) and demonstrate together the difference that faith is making?

Q: How can churches develop meaningful, innovative connections with relevant social justice agendas? 02

Part of the key to this is developing a proper understanding of Christian faith. So often today, society insists that faith is private, internal and / or spiritual—in other words, that it has nothing to do with everyday life. This is something we need to resist whenever we can. It is no good to say that we believe that God created the world if we don’t then demonstrate our passionate commitment to care for it through our words and actions. Equally, it makes no sense to say that we believe that Jesus loves the lost, the broken-hearted and those on the margins of society if we then do nothing about that ourselves. Following Jesus is a wholelife adventure, not just something we do with our minds. Once we recognise this, we can do nothing other than live this out through making meaningful, innovative connections with a whole range of social justice agendas.

Q: How can church leaders in the UK learn from global faith and community development to help churches in the UK effect change more successfully? 03

One of the challenges of the many pressures that Christian leaders experience in the 21st century is that they are often so busy that it can be hard to find the time to stop and drink in the wisdom of others. As with many issues, however, part of the issue is intentionality— the simple recognition that others working in areas like global faith and community development have a wisdom that will inform and transform what we are doing and encourage us to look outwards to learn from what others are doing. More specifically, seeking out the stories of transformation—as well as the actions that brought that transformation about—is one of the best ways to begin that learning.

Q: What are some practical ways that UK church leaders might address the Church’s ‘PR problem’? How can they better embrace or communicate the mission of their faith publicly? 04

It can be enormously dispiriting to hear how Christians are perceived by nonChristians. So often we are experienced as people who like to say ‘no’ and who love rules and regulations. At the same time, there are many Christians engaged in a wide variety of activities within their communities who are either unaware or unable to articulate that what they are doing relates to their faith in Jesus Christ. We need to become much more confident in declaring simply and clearly why we do what we do. In many ways this is connected to the command in 1 Peter 3:15: ‘Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have’ (NIV). If every Christian knew why they do what they do and said so regularly ‘with gentleness and respect’, we would be in a very different place than we are now.

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