From the Show Up Weekend to the Campaigns Roadshows

Kit Powney, Campaigns Officer for Christian Aid, reflects on the Show Up Weekend and looks forward to the Campaigns Roadshows. This article was originally published on the Christian Aid blog here.

Recently I went along to the Christians in Politics “Show up” Weekend, which aimed to create a space for people wanting to explore how their faith can impact the public sphere. There was a huge range of speakers from church leaders, theologians, MPs and councillors.

It was refreshing to attend an event with such a huge diversity of people from all sorts of backgrounds and across the political spectrum. It was really encouraging to attend workshops on campaigns skills and hear other people’s stories and experiences of talking to the media or organising a local event. There was a real sense that, whilst we recognise our differences in politics, we all had one goal: we all want to see change and work towards a world where God’s justice and peace is a reality.

What were the main things I took away from the weekend?

1. Religion and politics do mix

I asked Danny Webster, from the Evangelical Alliance, ‘How has your faith changed since you have been involved in the public sphere?’

‘My faith has both been challenged by being involved in politics; it has caused me to work out what it means, to work out how I apply it. It’s also given me a deeper understanding of it, a deeper understanding of what it means to be created in the image of God and living that out, what it means to just work for the goodness of society. So actually as I have engaged in politics and engaged in all different parts of society I’ve actually got a far stronger understanding of what it means to be a child of God and to be living out his kingdom’

Credit to Nicky Milne

2. That whichever colour you represent on the political spectrum, if you are a person of faith you should be involved in politics!

I asked Clare Mathys, who was representing the Liberal Democrat Christian Forum, ‘Why should Christians get involved in the public sphere?’

‘The amazing thing about politics is that everyone has something to say and everyone has something to offer because politics is about representing all people in our nation, whatever their life experience, whatever their background, whatever their class, whatever their nationality, whatever their age, everyone has got something unique to bring, and God has made us all differently, and he has given us all different perspectives. Politics is at its best when we bring people with very different experiences together, so we can actually build a politics, build a society that is interest of all society not just the elite or not just those with a certain education.’

Young campaigners talking to their local MP about climate change, credit to John Phillips

3. Getting involved isn’t scary, anyone can do it

I asked Andy Flannagan, director of Christians on the Left, ‘What would you say to people who feel like they don’t understand enough to get involved in the public sphere?’

‘None of us do, but you really don’t have to know as much as you think you do… politics is just people serving people, it’s nothing complicated, it is people serving people listening to people to see what their problems are and finding out ways to help and we’re used to doing that as the church, were used to doing that as neighbours… and we should be really confident in that we have great resources as the church to bring to that debate and bring to the stories of where we have seen that work in the past.’

4. We’re not alone, we participate as a community

I asked Krish Kandiah, the President of London School of Theology What do you see the UK Churches role in the public sphere?’

‘I think there are a few different way we are to be involved in the public sphere, I think firstly is by being the church we demonstrate a different way of being a people or being a polis, …it’s a little bit like when you go to a new housing estate that hasn’t been finished yet and they normally have one house that is show home. It’s kind of like a Tardis one way as it’s a time travelling machine as you walk through the housing estate all you see is girders, tractors and trenches, but then you walk into the show home and you see what the future of that area is going to be like and in one sense that’s the church’s role to model the coming kingdom of God in the way that we are with one another in the way that were relating God to every aspect of our lives together.

The second way is in terms of us as a community being salt and light wherever we are, so our communities should be better because our churches are there… what social benefit are we giving to the people around us?

Thirdly the way that we supposed to be involved politically is personally, so as an individual as a family unit, how am I showing the love of God to those in need, whether that is just by caring for elderly neighbours or using the vote that I have or using voice to speak up for the vulnerable and the ostracised. ’

Credit to John Phillips

What can you do?

So if you are looking to become more involved in the public sphere we would love you to join us as we continue fighting for a world free from poverty in 2016.

Why not sign up to come along to one of our Campaigns Roadshows events happening this year?

We wanted to start the new year as we mean to go on; with some inspiring gatherings of people passionate about changing the world. We’ve teamed up with our friends at The Children’s Society for the Campaign Roadshow. Together, we’ll be hitting the road and bringing you a series of events across England, joined by guest speakers from Christians in Politics, local MPs and church leaders.

We’ll explore how you can campaign more confidently in your church and local community, inspire you with our guest speakers, and share our stories of what inspires us to speak out in faith and campaign for justice.

Find your nearest Campaigns Roadshow here.