Weekly Blog - 23 June 2024 - 5 Ways to Take Action


5 ways to take action

As Christians, putting our faith into practice and taking action to fight social injustice, eliminate poverty and restore the environment is a huge part of what we believe, and very much what Arise is all about.  As we go about our lives there are essentially 5 ways in which we can take action in these crucial areas.  Each week Arise’s weekly action gives you ideas for how you can take action in a particular area in each of these 5 ways.  In this weekly blog we explore in a little more detail what the Bible says about the 5 ways in which we can take action, and how we put them into practice in our lives today.


1: Prayer

The first and most fundamental way we can help when confronted with wars, poverty, inequality, climate change and other global needs is through prayer.  The early church practiced this relentlessly.  In one example, Paul calls for prayer for national authorities that they might govern justly and ensure social stability, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Tim 2: 1 – 2).  As Christians prayer should be our first response.


2: Giving

But we shouldn’t stop at prayer.  Secondly, we can give.  The Bible challenges us as followers of Jesus to give radically, living simple lives, keeping only what we require for necessities and a few occasional treats, and giving the rest away.  As Jesus challenged us, “Sell your possessions and give to the poor.  Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out” (Luke 12: 33), and Zacchaeus said when he came to follow Jesus, “Look, Lord!  Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount” (Luke 19: 8).  Radical generosity like this can literally be the difference between life and death for many in the greatest poverty or oppression.  How can we as Christians justify anything else?  Even in tough economic circumstances, when we rightly should also be sensible and make sure we and our families are provided for, we should still try to give what we can.  God can use even the smallest amount given from a generous heart in incredible ways.

Arise believes that when we give, we should try to do so through Christian organisations that operate via local churches as much as possible, so we continue to strengthen the capacity of the church to have impact.  Where there are no Christian organisations in a specific area, we should of course support non-Christian groups who are still doing important work.  Giving is something that should apply not just throughout our lives, but also at the end of our lives, where we should consider only passing on a reasonable amount to our children, and giving as much as possible away.

There are many great Christian and non-Christian organisations we should consider supporting financially.  In the area of evangelism, we should consider supporting organisations that have really demonstrated their ability to help ordinary Christians and churches become involved in effectively sharing their faith, such as Alpha, Christianity Explored or HOPE Together.  In both evangelism and discipleship, we should also generously support our own local church.  In the area of social justice: International Justice Mission, Barnabas Fund, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Open Doors, Release International and many other Christian organisations work for improved human rights and religious liberty.  Amnesty International, Freedom House and Human Rights Watch are great secular groups doing the same thing.  When it comes to tackling global poverty you might wish to support Christian Aid, Cafod, Tearfund or World Vision – all excellent Christian organisations doing great work.  Secular groups such as Action Aid, Oxfam and Save the Children do similar good work in this critical area.  For poverty right here in the UK, Christian organisations like CAP or the Trussell Trust are doing great work that we should also consider supporting financially.  For the environment, A Rocha is a notable Christian organisation, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund, and your local Wildlife Trust are good secular ones.  There are of course many other great organisations in all of these areas.  Research, pray and decide which God would like you to support financially. 


3: Practical action

Beyond prayer and giving, the third thing we can do is take practical action, responding with compassion in immediate practical ways in the situations where we come into direct contact with people in need.  We see God challenge his people with this through the prophet Isaiah, who asks rhetorically what kind of fasting and worship God requires, “Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?” (Isa 58: 6 – 7)  In the New Testament, we see this exemplified in the Good Samaritan, who “as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.  He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine.  Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.  The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper.  ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have’” (Luke 10: 33 – 35).  This direct practical action can take a myriad of forms, perhaps financially supporting extended family members; a gift or loan (without interest) to a friend; flowers for someone who is feeling low; letting a friend in need live with you for a while; volunteering your time for good causes; cooking a meal for a stressed family; babysitting for someone who really needs a break; or making sure we always pay our taxes in full and don’t practice tax avoidance. 

For many of us, one of the main opportunities for practical action in our lives is in applying our faith through our jobs and working lives to improve social justice, development and the environment.  Most of us will be specifically called to spend the majority of our time in full-time paid employment in one of these areas.  The Bible is full of politicians and civil servants like Joseph, Ezra, Nehemiah and Daniel; farmers and businessmen like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Job; judges like Moses, Eli and Samuel; soldiers like Joshua, Gideon and David; and followers of Jesus from all walks of life: fishermen, tax collectors, servants, tentmakers, cloth sellers, tanners, jailers, doctors and lawyers.  Thus today, some will be called to be missionaries and evangelists (evangelism), and some to full time church leadership (discipleship), but others will be called to be politicians, civil servants, public sector employees, lawyers, police officers, members of the armed forces or journalists (social justice), others will be teachers, health professionals, work for the private sector or set up their own businesses (development), and others, scientists or conservationists (environment).  We should take every opportunity in the roles we have, and the places God has called us, to take practical actions and decisions which improve social justice, development and the environment.


4: Ethical consumption

As well as praying, giving and taking practical action, the fourth thing we can do is begin to shape the global economy, with which we all engage, through ethical consumption – choosing to buy more ethically and environmentally sustainable products and services.  The Bible is clear about the need for those engaged in business to act fairly, pay their workers well, and not exploit people or the environment.   Thus the Israelites were warned, “Do not take advantage of a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether that worker is a fellow Israelite or a foreigner residing in one of your towns.  Pay them their wages each day before sunset, because they are poor and are counting on it” (Deut 24: 14 – 15).  Later the Ninevites are strongly condemned, in part because, “You have increased the number of your merchants till they are more numerous than the stars in the sky, but like locusts they strip the land and then fly away” (Nahum 3: 16).  It follows therefore, that as Christians, we should seek to purchase goods and services from companies that try to follow ethical behaviour.  The Ethical Consumer website can help us to identify these.  In addition, let us pause briefly to consider what some of these ethical consumption choices might be. 

To help with development, we should prioritise buying products which have the Fair Trade mark or other known ethical standards, which guarantee good incomes and conditions for businesses and workers in developing nations.  Where these are not available, we should buy other products from developing nations where we can, thus still supporting their economies and helping reduce poverty.  Beyond this, wherever possible we should shop from small, local firms and enterprises, the healthy backbone of any economy, rather than large companies, supporting local development and helping to keep people out of poverty nearer to home.  We should buy goods and services from companies that pay a reasonable Living Wage.  We should consider divesting our pension and other financial savings from investment in unethical practices and fossil fuel industries, and instead invest them in companies with good ethical standards, and in clean energy renewable companies.  Organisations like Share Action can advise with this.  We should be prepared to pay more for ethical, developing country and local business goods and services, even if this means giving less to charity.  Directly supporting people and their businesses in this way is more empowering than simply providing aid, and this is the kind of kingdom-values economy we want to see. 

To protect the environment, we should switch to a green electricity provider like Ecotricity or Good Energy.  If we can afford it, we should convert our homes from using gas for heating, hot water and cooking to electricity from the same green provider, or heat pumps.  We should reduce our use of both electricity and gas for heating, hot water and cooking as much as possible by intentional changes in behaviour, such as switching off lights and unplugging devices when not in use, wearing warmer clothing rather than turning the heating up, and ensuring our home is properly insulated.  To help with this we should use an energy monitor (available online and from many high-street shops) to monitor and identify ways of reducing our energy use at home.  In terms of transport, we should walk or cycle as much as possible, rather than using vehicles.  If feasible, we should use public transport, car shares or occasionally rent rather than own a car.   If we do need a car, then if we can afford it, we should buy an electric car which can be charged using green electricity.  If not, and if we do need a traditional car, we should try and have just one per family.  We should also buy a car that is as fuel efficient and low emission as possible.  We should avoid flying, or do so as little as possible, and try to use trains or boats instead of planes where we can.  After we have done all this, we should offset any fossil fuel emissions that remain, from either our home or transport, with an offsetting company like the Christian organisation, Climate Stewards, that plants trees and implements other offsetting programmes to absorb emissions. 

In our diets, we should try to buy organic food, and meat and other animal products that are free-range, as much as we can afford.  There is plenty of non-organic food which is produced in ways which don’t harm the environment.  However, in the absence of a clear labelling scheme, buying organic is the only way to be certain that harmful polluting chemicals haven’t been used.  Similarly, we should only buy wood products that are sustainably logged, and buy second-hand rather than new wherever possible, thus reducing our overall consumption and driving more funds towards good causes.  In terms of what we eat, we should have a diet that is based mainly upon fruit and vegetables (at least a third), and cereal and carbohydrates (at least a third), with a small amount of meat (less than a sixth) and dairy (less than a sixth).  Furthermore, when we do eat meat, we should try to eat white meat and fish rather than red meat.  This is how God designed our bodies to be healthy, and it is also good for people and planet, reducing currently unsustainable global meat and dairy production.  We should limit food waste as much as possible, and compost all organic waste.  Beyond our diets, we should also seek to reduce all other kinds of waste from our homes, making a note of every item we put in our bins and then searching online to see if there is a recyclable, re-usable, non-waste alternative.  We should do all we can to reduce and eliminate altogether the plastic products we buy, as plastic can only be recycled a limited number of times before it ends up as waste.


5: Speaking out in advocacy

Moving on from ethical consumption, the fifth and final thing we can do as individual Christians towards a more socially just, developed and environmentally sustainable world, is to speak out in advocacy.  This means challenging and changing the policies and actions of those in power – in governments and business.  As the book of Proverbs says, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.  Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and the needy” (Prov 31: 8 – 9), and God challenges us through the words of the Prophet Isaiah, “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? … if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.” (Isa 58: 6 – 10). 

This can seem overwhelming, and it can be hard to know where to start.  There are so many important groups, working on so many important causes.  Arise exists to help make this easy and manageable.  We are a one-stop-shop for helping you put your faith into practice, including speaking out in advocacy, across the key issues of social justice, development and the environment.  If you haven’t already, do sign up with Arise we will send you one weekly action, to help put these five ways of acting (including speaking out in advocacy) into practice in your life one step at a time. 



As ordinary people just going about our lives it can be easy to feel helpless in the face of the overwhelming challenges like war, poverty, inequality, dictatorships or climate change that the world faces.  But as Christians we are really not helpless.  The Holy Spirit is always with us, and there are 5 key ways we can put our faith into action and make a real difference to bring God’s kingdom into these situations and make this world a better place.  Let’s keep pressing forward with hope to make this change together (Arise Manifesto, pg 64 – 74).


Find out more

Find out more about how God is at work in the world, and the role we all have to play in that work, in the Arise Manifesto.  This report is Arise’s big picture, researched, Biblical, holistic and practical vision for a better world.  It looks at what the Bible says, and what we can learn from the best data and the world’s leading experts on the five major areas of evangelism, discipleship, social justice, development and the environment.  It then draws these lessons together into a practical road map for the changes we need to see in our world, which the Arise movement campaigns to achieve.

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