social-justice-handbookIf you are interested in effectively influencing others to take action on issues of social action, then I would highly recommend “Social Justice Handbook: Small Steps For A Better World” by Mae Elise Cannon. I am not familiar with any other resource of this kind. Cannon provides a comprehensive guide to the topic of social justice that is not only rooted in Scripture, but is replete with tangible ways to pursue justice through the local church.

The handbook is divided into two main sections. Part one, which includes five chapters, titled “Foundations of Social Justice,” is meant to provide a biblical framework for justice, and addresses how both individuals and churches can get involved.

Chapter one, “God’s Heart for Justice,” is a broad view of the theological foundation for social justice. Chapter two focuses on definitions and questions about social justice. Chapter three, provides a history of Christian social justice in the United States. Chapter four addresses the process people must embark on to allow their hearts to be opened and broken toward those who are most affected by injustice and oppression. And chapter five focuses on the roles individuals, church, community and government can play in advocating social justice.

While each of the chapters are excellent, my favorite is chapter four, where Cannon shares a helpful process of moving people from apathy to advocacy, that I believe has broad implications for ministry. She writes:

Though social justice cannot be simplified to a step-by-step program, I have identified nine components to be consistently helpful in the movement from apathy to advocacy: prayer, awareness, lament, repentance, partnership and community, sacrifice, advocacy, evangelism, and celebration. Sometimes these elements happen in a linear progression, sometimes they happen simultaneously, and at other times they are cyclical. In any case, they are part of the ongoing process of personal transformation and spiritual growth toward Christlikeness.

Part two, “Social Justice Issues,” is arranged alphabetically and includes more than eighty justice “topics.” This section of the book is designed to be both a reference guide and a reflective tool. Cannon has included multiple ministry profiles, spiritual reflection and awareness exercises, and simple (not easy) action steps. Lastly, the book includes a wonderful set of appendixes, that include organizations, books and movies that deal with a variety of justice issues.