Strengths and challenges for the church in advocacy
Many churches are already doing advocacy, even if they do not use that term. For many, standing up for the oppressed and for the vulnerable is a natural thing to do. The church can play a number of strategic roles in the work of advocacy:
- Church leaders can influence others
- Churches can mobilise large numbers of others to pray and take action
- Churches have credibility with many national governments and can be a trusted voice on moral issues
- Churches can link to wider networks
Local church congregations bring particular strengths to advocacy, such as local information-gathering, sharing information at community level, and the ability to act as peacebuilders.
Church structures such as denominations also bring particular strengths and are suited to playing particular roles. For example, they can amplify messages through the media, act as international advocates, represent the views of the church and collaborate in wider alliances.
There are also challenges for the church in engaging with advocacy:
- Church leaders can be politically compromised
- Churches can lack specialist knowledge
- Churches can lack capacity in terms of people, time and resources
- Churches can be vulnerable to state persecution
- Some church leaders may resist church involvement in advocacy based on their theological understanding of the role of the church in the world
- Churches can suffer from a lack of unity locally and at the denominational level
Church and community mobilisation (CCM) advocacy
Tearfund has been implementing the church and community mobilisation (CCM) process for more than 20 years in at least 25 countries. Through CCM, churches inspire and empower citizens to identify needs in their community and to mobilise their own resources to address them.
In a handful of countries, Tearfund’s church partners have introduced advocacy into the CCM process – an approach now known as CCM advocacy.