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27 October 2017

Giving to public life

Giving to public life

Sometimes you can try too hard to crowbar an article into a theme, or force it to fit a topic, and I thought that might be the case on this occasion. How can I talk about politics and public life in a magazine focused around giving and generosity? Not exactly an obvious fit. But perhaps the fact that we see giving and generosity as far away from politics is our problem, not a problem with politics. So instead of analysing the presence of generosity within politics I want to set a challenge: what can we give to politics and public life?

Public life is much broader than the politics we see through newspapers and media coverage, it is wider still than the politics which takes place at a local level in councils and town halls across the UK. Public life is made up of the institutions and organisations that contribute to our society, whether that is a business providing services, or a voluntary sector organisation, or friends in a neighbourhood working together.

Here are four areas where we can give to public life:

1. Give our hands to our local community
The recently published What kind of society? resource from the Evangelical Alliance comments: "We should also commit to the hard work of helping people practically. We may not be able to make our nation more free but we can probably help a neighbour." It is easy to be overwhelmed by the scope of challenges that face us, the best place to start is what we can each give to our local community. How can we love our literal neighbours today? What can we give to contribute to the sort of society that we want to see become a reality in the coming years?

Christians contribute vast quantities of time and energy to local projects, an exhibition in the Scottish parliament in September profiled the £100m economic impact of faith groups' contribution through 9,000 faith based groups and 11 million hours of service. Read more at www.eauk.org/wkos

2. Give our lives to leadership
Instead of becoming downhearted about the state of leadership in public life, what leadership can we give to parts of society that need it? Whether we look at a local community level, or in national politics or professional sectors, there is a need for better leadership.

God gives us a mandate to act with His authority and exercise leadership and influence in our nation. Through our Public Leadership work the Evangelical Alliance wants to equip Christians to see how they can bring leadership that works for the good of all and works for the glory of God. 

The gift that we receive from God, of getting to join in with His ongoing work of creation, is a gift that we can give to the world around us. We sincerely believe that leadership is what makes things change. Find out how you can change your world with our new small group course. www.thepublicleader.com/changetheworld

3. Give our voice to speaking up
We act by giving our hands to the needs of our neighbourhood, and we give our lives to leadership in places that need it, and the third way we can give to public life is to give our voices. As an Alliance we speak up in parliament and to government to ensure that the voice of evangelicals is heard. But we can't do it on our own, we would love you to give your voice to the issues that concern you, that arise from what you witness in your community, or reflect the world you want to see future generations grow up in.

In the coming months the government will be largely preoccupied with legislation around Brexit, but other issues will also appear on the parliamentary agenda. This is likely to include a review of gender identity legislation, sex and relationship education in schools, and responses to extremism. On all these issues the voice of evangelicals is crucial to help the government know what it means for society to thrive, and to ensure our ongoing freedom and liberties are not eroded. Find out more on current issues where your voice is needed at www.eauk.org/voice

4. Give our prayers for the persecuted Church
This autumn we want to see the Church join together with one voice to pray for the persecuted Church. The Alliance's Religious Liberty Commission brings together member organisations, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Open Doors and Release International, to focus the Church's attention on places where Christians risk their lives to worship, read the Bible and preach the gospel.
The international day of prayer for the persecuted Church is 19 November and resources are available to help churches pray at www.eauk.org/rlc

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