As looters rampage English cities church leaders ask by twitter and email 'What can we do?'. Carol co-ordinates prayer targets through followers of our Way of Life in affected areas. I tweeted a clergy support person in south London to urge clergy to be shepherds of the streets who listen to the pain and who mobilise seventy (c.f. Jesus) to visit the looted and those in prison and encourage the police in their duties.

The message of politicians and police is that criminals will be punished. That is vital. We must also press for the miscreants to make reparation in some way - so that they face up to the physical and emotional cost of their actions. Our longer term aim must be to build a responsible society. The day before the riots I tweeted 'Forgive our nations for bingeing on loans our children must repay. Cure our addiction to debt. Grant us mercy as we reap what we have sown.' We now begin to reap what we have sown. When there are financial cuts in a consumer society those with least feel cut out, so some without higher values consume (i.e. loot) from the rich (i.e.shops). Our message to the shapers as well as the losers of a consumer society is 'Consuming is not what makes a worthwhile life. Let's turn our consumer society into a community. Here's how we can start...'

A Catholic deacon who studies Celtic Christianity at the evangelical Cliff College has asked me to be his mentor as he researches how his town could become a 'village of God'. 'Broken but Blessed' is its title. We identify a range of resources and practices that can create social and spiritual capital and make for the well-being of a town. That town has already made significant progress. It has suffered no riots. Let us learn ways forward together.

As a start, churches can

  • Provide protectors of shops, temples, mosques etc
  • Help people clear up the>
  • Give affected people a drink or food item specially prepared by church people. Could some churches raise money to help ruined shopkeepers begin to re-stock?
  • Invite the disaffected to talent discovery events
  • Invite parents and guardians to parenting skills sessions
  • Promote events, web and social networking on how we can make our society a community that honours each person and God
  • In November my book 'The Cowshed Movement: Downwardly Mobile Chrisstians for a New Society' will be published. It gives examples of social eneterprises in which rich bankers meet with the street addicts who frequent a charity tbey donate to. They don't just throw money, they play sport with them. They become part of one community.

    Posted at 22:19pm on 10th August 2011
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