The Power of Church-Legal Partnerships


This week PBS aired a special news report on Medical-Legal Partnerships.   The report demonstrates how the medical profession went from seeing lawyers as adversaries to viewing them as partners.  What prompted the change?

Despite what some people think of doctors, most genuinely care about patients.  Doctors and health professionals began to realize that their patients had more than just medical needs.  In fact they came to realize that their health was being impacted by stress and worry from legal entanglements with housing, guardianships, elder care, wills and powers of attorney, government, immigration and more.  Because these health professionals wanted to see people healthy they asked themselves a simple but profound question.

“What if we stopped thinking of lawyers as the enemy and actually invited a group of them to come to the hospital to help us serve our patients?”

The results have been outstanding.  Hospitals have saved money, patients have far greater health outcomes, and lawyers serve with a team to make a real difference.  Please watch the 8 minute report.

So why can’t we do the same in the church?  If hospitals which were started by Christians and the church, care about people enough to free them from burdens and stress so they can be restored to health and a stronger place, why can’t we do that in the church world?  Surely we care about people and our community.  Don’t we want to see people freed from burdens and stress so they can be healthier?  And we see that health not only in terms of the physical but the spiritual as well.

So why aren’t we establishing church-legal partnerships?  Story after story in the book Gospel Justice and the free guide, Do Likewise, living the gospel through compassion & justice, demonstrate the transformative impact of such a ministry partnership.  So why not do it?

I think the church is busy and the lawyer is afraid.  The church is busy with band-aid relief that hands out benevolence, food, clothes, but misses the opportunity to free people so they can be more self-sustaining.  The lawyer is afraid of stepping outside their area of expertise, the nature of the role they would take on and liability.  Like the priest and the Levite in the parable of the Good Samaritan, they both miss the divine opportunity to do justice, love kindness and humbly serve their neighbor in need.

Gospel Justice Initiative has all the tools to make this partnership easy.  Share this message to pastors or this message to attorneys.  The impact is profound.  Don’t we want to free people to live healthy, productive lives?  Then let’s stop dispensing band-aid relief.  Let’s act in faith, not fear.  And let’s get involved in the work of justice that restores people and communities so they can flourish.  Don’t delay – reach out to us today!

Jesus didn’t commend the priest or the Levite for missing an opportunity.  He commended the Samaritan for taking the opportunity.  He challenged the lawyer of that day and today to

Go and Do Likewise!