Theological Foundations and Core Values

Theological Foundations

God’s preferential option for the poor: The Bible contains stories of marginalization, poverty and powerlessness - a demonstration of the sinfulness of humankind and the need in every age to be attentive to the processes which discriminate and marginalize. God’s character reveals a God of justice and an emphasis on our need to care for the vulnerable, the stranger and those who are impoverished.  

The Good News of Jesus Christ: The multiple systems which marginalize others are challenged by the gospel. Christ sees the extraordinary worth of those who experience poverty. His example was to restore those who were “unclean” and share bread with those described as “outcasts”. Church at the Margins is focused on people who are economically poor experiencing and revealing God, recognising that without the presence of the poor, the Church will not see the whole of God’s vision for humankind. We hold that to abandon the poor is to abandon the central theme of the liberating, life-giving message of the gospel for us all.

Evangelism and social justice: These are inseparable aspects of our Christian discipleship. The good news of the gospel reveals ‘life in all its fullness’ (John 10:10). Every aspect of our lives is transformed by the gospel. Love is at the intersection of evangelism and social justice. ‘The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love’ (Psalm 33:5), ‘and the heavens proclaim his righteousness, for God is a God of justice’ (Psalm 50:6).

Interdependence: God created us to be interdependent with God, within ourselves (physical, emotional, and spiritual), others, and the created (non-human) world. We recognise our shared brokenness and our capacity and need to receive from one another and particularly from people who are economically vulnerable or marginalised whose wisdom and gifts we can fail to recognise.

Inclusion: We believe everyone belongs to God. Each person is created in the image of God and therefore has an intrinsic worth, value and dignity. Whenever we ‘other’ people because of their economic circumstances, we distort the image of God in them and ourselves. We recognise the gifts of all people and the sinful structures of systemic injustice which lead to exclusion.   

        Reflection: How could you build on these theological foundations? 

Core Values

Seek justice: We believe God loves all people, is at work, and can be discovered among people who are economically vulnerable or marginalized. We recognise the devastating impact of poverty on people’s lives, especially children, and are committed to a vision of God’s justice for all people. We are committed to listening to, amplifying, and being changed by the voices of those who experience injustice and marginalisation.  Working collaboratively, we will seek opportunities to enable those voices to be heard by those with power to instigate change and transformation.

Prioritise the lived experience of people at the economic margins: We believe people with lived experience are the experts in their contexts and essential partners in co-designing, co-creating, co-delivering and co-leading any project. We are committed to the orientation that, ‘nothing about us, without us, is for us.’ [1]

Share power: We will share power and recognise the dynamics and potential misuse of power, including acknowledging the privileged position of cultural outsiders and the dominant patterns of white, middle class and male culture. We are committed to long-term and sustained presence in economically marginalised and vulnerable communities.

Celebrate inclusion and participation: We will celebrate and value the inclusion and participation of all. We believe everyone in a community has something to offer. Gifts are waiting to be discovered in all communities. We will resist focusing on service-provider models of community engagement based on the rich doing something for the poor. We recognise our need for the gifts of those at the economic margins, and believe the whole Church needs to receive these gifts to be fully transformed by the gospel of Christ.

Enable leadership communities: We will nurture, enable, and develop local leadership within people already present and invested in their local context. We recognise a variety of leadership styles but will resist models of ‘heroic leader/rescuer’ leadership.

        Reflection: How could these core values nurture new communities in your contexts?

[1] The source of this quote is debatable. Its origins were in Central European politics before it was adopted by disability rights movements. It has become the motto of the Poverty Truth Network.

 

Resources 

Click here to read the Church at the Margins chapter from the New Places for New People practical guide.

Click here for a downloadable leaflet of the theological foundations and core values.


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