By Lauren Seibert, World Vision ACT:S Advocacy & Campaigns Fellow
Many people are concerned that we're slipping into a post-Christian era. But 29-year-old Pastor Jeff Jackson of Journey Church in New Albany, Ky., believes that the solution is right in front of us: connecting faith to action and activism.
"The bottom line is if we don't reach the generation behind us, the church will die out. We don't really have an option to not reach this generation — we have to," says Jackson. "So methodology is going to have to start changing. We're going to have to start talking about more social issues. A lot of times there has been a rift in the church, where people say if you're involved in social work or activism that's all you're going to do. But we know it's so much more than that."
Jackson's solution? He created a campaign for malaria that younger members of his church would be excited to get involved with. While Journey Church just started up last year, its approach and location next to Indiana University Southeast (IUS) has already attracted a strong audience of young people and 20-somethings. "We were trying to really unite college-age student that were coming to our church around a cause," says Jackson.
Jackson and his team decided to make t-shirts and sell them, with the money from each shirt buying insecticide-treated bed nets for Mozambique. After designing the shirts that read "Malaria kills 2,000 children every day. Helpendmalaria.com", he kicked off his website www.helpendmalaria.com and made a Twitter and Facebook page.
Every shirt sold symbolizes one more life protected by a bed net. The idea is so simple that it's catching. Local churches and youth groups have expressed an interest in getting involved with the campaign, as has campus ministry at IUS. In the future, Journey Church is thinking of expanding the campaign into a t-shirt design contest, which could build momentum for the movement across the U.S.
"It's been pretty cool, and it has been picking up a lot of interest online from other humanitarian organizations," says Jackson. "People are re-tweeting us, sharing our Facebook page. It's still in the infancy stage, but I was really surprised how quick people were jumping behind this to spread the word. We're really starting to see this grow because we're uniting our college-age students around this cause, and we've found that humanitarian efforts and activism is the language that they're speaking."