Eight Key Elements
A Note from our founder, Rev. Alvin C Bibbs, Sr.
Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the March on Washington
August 28, 1963
The Justice Journey Experience™ has proven its effectiveness in assisting a multi-cultural audience of believers in addressing the painful racial divisions between us, from a Christian perspective. Unlike seminars or workshops that examine these issues on a more superficial level, The Justice Journey Experience™ combines eight elements that enable participants to go deeper and make real progress, individually and collectively, toward racial reconciliation and social justice.
1. Learning by Experience
“… truth requires a maximum effort to see through the eyes of strangers, foreigners and enemies.” Taylor Branch, Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years 1963-1965
The Justice Journey Experience™ is centered on experiential learning, taking participants to the places where the Civil Rights Movement was fought, introducing them to the “foot soldiers” of the Movement, and examining the lasting divisions in our society. This type of learning quickly leads to greater understanding than lectures or readings alone. One of the most powerful experiences is at the Enslavement & Civil War Museum in Selma, where the group participants are placed in a re-enactment of the loading of a slave ship and experience some of the humiliation and fear involved. Surprisingly, all people groups on the journey have expressed that they understood very little of the history of the Civil Rights Movement before going on the Justice Journey.
2. Building Relationships
I am learning that The Justice Journey Experience™ is a spiritual journey. It is less about my plans to do something about injustice and more about God’s plan to heal this land by using his redeemed people to do his work here on earth. Fran Hoag, Willow Creek Community Church…Justice Journey Participant
The structure of The Justice Journey Experience promotes one-on-one and small group interaction, creating safe places for people to interact across racial lines. The Justice Journey Experience™ placed great emphasis on small group interaction to allow participants time and space to process each day’s events. In addition, relationship building starts prior to the journey, with a gathering at a designated church for a Sunday service and an orientation session typical lead by Dr. Michael Emerson, author of Divided by Faith.
3. Challenging Assumptions
We can make a difference. We can get over our hatred. We don’t have to accept what we have – the deaths in New Orleans, the killings in Jackson, Mississippi – but we can’t do it with a divided church. God wants all of us to be involved. Dr. John Perkins, President, John Perkins Foundation for Reconciliation and Development
The educational component of The Justice Journey Experience historically has been led by the God-father for the reconciliation movement Dr. John Perkins. In addition to hearing his provocative lectures during the bus rides and at historical sites, the group views documentaries and movies that challenged their understanding of American values of fairness and equality, including a Christian film on white privilege.
4. Taking a Biblical View
But let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. Amos 5:24
The concepts of justice and righteousness, deeply embedded throughout the Old and New Testaments, are the focus of biblically based teachings on racial reconciliation and social justice. During our visit to Atlanta one of our faculty members will introduce God’s heart for justice and righteousness at the first stop at the King Center in Atlanta and offered concrete suggestions for Christians who desire to address these issues.
5. Calling for Repentance
Before God can change the world, He will have to change the Body of Christ. This whole journey is about brokenness. You have to be broken for God to use you. Rev. Dearal Jordan, Senior Pastor Christ Centered Church of Chicago
At some point in every journey experience, the participants are led to a place of conviction for their own personal sins and complicities in racial prejudice and injustice, followed by a call to repentance. At the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham a challenging message is delivered on forgiveness and grace, and followed with a prayer for repentance, calling the group to come to the altar.
6. Celebrating the Progress
This justice journey experience has been educational, inspiring, loving and spiritually strengthening in all aspects. I know God is pleased. Deacon Johnnie Addison, Salem Baptist Church of Chicago…Justice Journey participant
The Justice Journey Experience™ is an extremely intense and spiritually transformational, leading people to difficult places of understanding. It is important to spend time celebrating the commitment of the participants to encounter the truth about themselves and society. At the close of the Journey, the participants celebrated with a banquet and then a very inspiring re-entry closing message and a time of worship.
7. Structuring the Follow-Through
How do you account for a church that is 100 million strong and we are like apartheid on Sunday morning? We have to capture in our minds that we are one in Jesus Christ. Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, President, The Skinner Institute
Participants on The Justice Journey Experience begin to develop relationships that they desire to take further. However, we learned that a certain amount of structure is required for follow-through to take place. Therefore, on the bus ride home to Chicago, the participants are asked to complete a brief survey on their interest in any of three areas for follow-through between the participants: 1. Pairing up with another person for prayer; 2. Finding ways to address social justice issues together; and 3. Participating in dinner exchanges. Historically every participant has desired to engaged in all three. All churches are strongly encouraged to facilitate follow-through opportunities on behalf of those who participate in the experience.
8. Leading by Example
A lack of love is a moral failure. God has been working with me about how I need to use my voice to speak into situations of injustice.
Gene Appel, Former Lead Pastor, Willow Creek Community Church
The Justice Journey Experience™ is structured so that the multiple churches and/or organizations can share leadership of the Journey, with the planning team representing all organizations and shared upfront leadership responsibilities during the journey. It is also hoped that teaching pastors and other senior leaders will take strong positions on the values of social justice and reconciliation, supporting their teaching with public action.
Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
2 Corinthians 5:18-20
The Justice Journey Experience™ is intended to serve as a model for churches across America to make the same pilgrimage of reconciliation – a pilgrimage toward the truth about the racial divisions and injustices in our society, in our churches, in our neighborhoods and in our hearts. The leadership team for The Justice Journey Experience™ has developed a package of resources that will enable local churches to make the concept their own, including small group studies, speaker contacts, recommended readings and special arrangements with museums and historic sites in the South and other regions to accommodate church journeys. An advance level The Justice Journey Experience™ has also been developed to facilitate’ two or three day journeys for senior pastors.
To begin to spread the concept of The Justice Journey Experience to other churches, I’m making a concerted effort to reach Christian publications and media outlets, as well as secular media. In Atlanta, I was interviewed for a community affairs show on the local Christian radio station (Salem Network). Going forward, the media outreach effort is targeting Christianity Today and the Moody Broadcasting Network, among others. I also will be reaching out to other associations involved in social justice issues.
I’m looking quite forward to find ways for churches to work together to address issues of racial reconciliation and social justice in the years to come. The participants of The Justice Journey Experience™ are inspired to be mobilized and serve.
On behalf of The Justice Journey Experience™ past participants and leaders, thank you for your faith in us! I’m absolutely honored to be taking this Journey with you and strategic leaders and members from your church in the days ahead.
Rev. Alvin C. Bibbs, Sr.
Founder & Lead Facilitator
The Justice Journey Experience™