What we've been reading this weekNick Spencer on the electionContacting election candidatesHow to Show Up Snap Election - How to respond?Thoughts from a Broom CupboardDifficulties getting to the Polling Station?Can’t be bothered to vote? Some reasons why you should….Politics is in need of incarnation, not just demonstration10 Reasons Christians Should Vote in the ElectionsThe election as an opportunityPolitics is dead...When praying for your leaders feels tough...'THOSE WHO SHOW UP' - Every church leader should read this book! If you care about your neighbour, you care about politicsDoes politics really matter?Why the Catholic Church calls us to be "active citizens"Serving God On the Inside and On the OutsideWho would Jesus vote for?5 reasons Christians don't get involved in politicsShifting views on politics from an Ethiopian immigrantOne student's u-turn on politicsTime to get engaged!A call for students to have a go!

How to Show Up

You’re at a Church Hustings, having made a decision to Show Up. Your heart burns with a particular issue about which you care deeply.

You long to see God’s will be done and so want to bring the issue to the attention of the candidates, hoping that whoever gets elected will take up this cause.

The microphone is approaching. You have a few seconds to formulate something that is concise, pointed and astute…. What will you ask!?


Hmmm, actually, Showing Up takes time, reflection and research. It’s not the same as pitching up and expressing an opinion. Anyone can do that – and some probably will!

If we really want to make a difference when we Show Up, there are three important things we need to consider:


First, as Christians, our primary concern should not just be about ourselves.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others (Philippians 2:3-4)

At election time candidates are used to people expressing opinions and advocating policies that will improve and enhance their own lives and lifestyle.

But Christians are called to do something far more noble: we are called to raise the voice of the voiceless by showing up and speaking up for what  is in their best interest – irrespective of whether that choice personally benefits us or not.

So, when the microphone reaches you, will you use the opportunity to speak up on behalf of the wider community?


Second, we need to speak in an informed way, based on our experience and not on hearsay from those perhaps less informed or experienced.

The role and impact of the church in addressing deep social needs is being increasingly recognised and was summarised in a recent report by Theos, the Christian Think Tank:

‘… the breadth, depth and intensity of this Christian service is deepening. From personal debt advice to marriage counselling, from foodbanks to street pastors, from rehabilitation to reconciliation, the Church - and Christian charities across the country are rolling up their sleeves, struggling on behalf of human dignity, pursuing the common good - and doing it all in the name of Jesus Christ’

An unintended outcome of this, is that Christian groups are gathering an incredible body of evidence, but possibly don’t even realise it.  For example, the relationships formed through running foodbanks or working with the elderly, provides a deep understanding about how poverty and isolation affects individuals and families.  Not only that, it gives insight and ideas about how things could be better.

We are then in a position to share these insights and ideas with every candidate that hopes to be elected and make the decisions that will affect their lives.

The Bible doesn’t just say we should care for the poor and marginalised, it also urges us to speak up on their behalf:

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.” (Proverbs 31v8)

It is often said that that ‘prevention is better than cure’ or as this video succinctly puts it: ‘Let’s give the Good Samaritan the odd day off’ - by proposing measures that will prevent many of the heart-breaking situations we so often see.

So, when holding the microphone, what experiences can you draw on, to speak up on behalf of others?


Third, we believe Christians can and should be more bold in raising issues that help to set the agenda of political debate, not just commentate on what someone else thinks is important. Participate, don’t just commentate, in politics

We have already said, Showing Up takes time, reflection and research. There is a wealth of experience that the Church has and can use to help set the agenda of political debate, and thus see the election as the start of an ongoing political conversation.

But how can we use that experience to formulate questions, interventions and proposals?

                            Thankfully, many of our friends in other organisations have resources and information to help you:


 

TearFund covers the topics climate change and aid in depth, with two recommended questions to ask at Hustings.

 


 

Christian Aid has produced a guide and series of proposals on the topics of Climate Change, UK Aid, Displaced People and Tax Dodging.

 


 

Joint Public Issues Team have produced a briefing which highlights four issues they believe are poised to have a real impact on the country’s future: migration, the UK’s relationship with the European Union, poverty and economic                                                         inequality in the UK, and the UK’s role in the world.


 

The Evangelical Alliance asks ‘what kind of society do we want’ and explores this question through 4 different lenses: love, freedom, justice and truth.


 

CARE have launched a website - engage17 - which provides information and suggests questions for candidates on issues within three broad themes: Life, Family, Justice. 


 

The Bible Society asks why the general election matters from a biblical perspective.


 

Open Doors has a resource to help you raise the issue of persecuted Christians with you local candidates.


 

CTBI has information on local hustings as well as links to resources from a range of different organisations.

 


 

Caritas Social Action Network in collaboration with CAFOD have created a briefing to encourage public debate, and to offer examples of questions for prospective parliamentary candidates.

 


 

 Cytun, Churches Together in Wales, have collated information on public meetings and constituency meetings in Wales, as well as a range of useful links to organisations with election material.

 

 


Christians on the Left, Liberal Democrat Christian Forum and the Conservative Christian Fellowship are campaigning hard during the election for their candidates - you can contact them to get Cinvolved.