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Opportunities to Help Improve Social Progress

According to a recent study conducted by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States ranks near the bottom on issues of social progress. Thirty-one countries were represented in the study. The social progress indicators were:

  • Poverty prevention
  • Access to education
  • Full employment
  • Social harmony and non-discrimination
  • Health
  • Intergenerational justice

The United States’ lowest ranking was poverty prevention, which included child poverty, senior citizen poverty, and the poverty rate. The United States’ second lowest ranking was access to education, which was indicated by education policy and student performance. The US was fifth from the bottom in this category. The highest ranking for the US was in the area of full employment (15th), which included employment and unemployment rates.

At the risk of over-simplifying macro problems, these data provide some opportunities for churches:

1. Meet people where they are. It is critical that we never judge the people in our communities; rather, we need to accept them as Jesus accepted all of us.  “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

2. Become actively involved. Churches may not have much power to affect legislation, but they do have the ability to feed the homeless and poor and partner with non-profit organizations that are already meeting the needs of the disenfranchised. Feeding people is good, but it is paramount that we also begin building relationships with them. Viewing the poor—not as projects—but as people who need the love of Jesus will enable us to “proclaim Good News” to them (Luke 4:18).

3.  “Adopt” a local school. Schools are notoriously under-funded, meaning that many students’ needs are not being consistently met. Churches can volunteer at schools by offering qualified tutors for students and providing manual labor for improvement on the school building and grounds. This partnership will go a long ways toward establishing goodwill in the community.

 

What else can churches do to help improve social progress?

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