Review and Reflection on “Faith-Based Organizing.”

Pastor Matthew Best
4 min readAug 4, 2021

I recently read “Faith-Based Organizing.” This is a good book if you are looking to get into some practical application of community organizing within a faith setting. There are several chapters with the how-to’s of organizing, the people that you’ll need, and the foundation to get you started.

Here’s my sticking point — throughout the book, I kept reading about how certain aspects could not be tried or didn’t work out. It left me a bit confused. The reality of this is that organizing and change in a culture is difficult. Ideas on paper can be mapped out perfectly. But then as soon as you deal with people, it gets messy.

I don’t say all of that to dismiss this book. What I pulled away from this book is that here is a method that works if it is applied. It’s the ideal. And we recognize that no ideal works the way it ideally should. But it’s a great model to be a guide for action going forward. x

Part 1 of the book is the foundation. It talks about congregational transformation. That’s the stuff I love and needless to say, it’s the part of the book I enjoyed the most. Because talking about Congregational transformation provokes ideas, questions, and more. Congregational transformation is also about individual transformation, relationship transformation, community transformation. It allows me to sort though these things and figure out what might work in my setting, why, and to what purpose.

The core of this book is based on one premise — “Charity does not resolve the root causes of poverty, nor does it empower people caught in the vicious cycle of poverty.” (Pg. 3–4). This is the challenge for the church in America because it means that we have to look beyond our good works to the systems that maintain poverty. This is where our confession comes in handy — it reminds us that we are captive to sin (systems of abuse) and cannot free ourselves. We do this work because “We believe addressing and overcoming poverty matters to God.” (Pg. 5)

A good chunk of the book is focuses on a pilot method called — Congregation-initiated community-based advocacy. (CICBA). It’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s about “transformation from charity to advocacy.” (Pg. 7). It is in advocacy that transformation takes place.

Here’s the part that is really important in this — definition of terms. Far too many Christians here the word advocacy and think — “but that’s political and the church isn’t supposed to…

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Pastor Matthew Best

My name is Matthew Best. I’m an ELCA (Lutheran) pastor who attempts to translate church and churchy stuff into everyday language.