I am excited to announce the successful completion of Gospel Justice Initiative. In the days ahead we will be changing our web site and materials to reflect our decision to now use the name Administer Justice.
The Initiative Succeeded!
Webster defines initiative as “an introductory step, introductory, preliminary.” In 2011 John Robb (left) and I first incorporated Gospel Justice Initiative. God whispered to John His desire to see 1,000 legal aid ministries across America. John was 86. John reached out to his extensive rolodex (he actually still had one of those), but found only one young man who firmly believed in the vision. That young man (compared to John) was me.
For the next two years John and I gathered others together to affirm the vision. In 2013, God raised a new leader for Administer Justice so I could join John in the Initiative. The mission was clear: figure out how to remove all the barriers to make legal ministry easy and impactful. Until that was accomplished, the vision of 1,000 centers would never be realized. This bold initiative had never been attempted before and over the next several years we continuously prayed and pursued God’s plan to create the model to achieve the vision.
Last year the final pieces came together and we now have three unique distinctives that make it easy for anyone to say yes and have life changing impact through legal ministry.
Initiative One: A turnkey clinic launch and growth process
For more than a decade, John Robb began and led Christian Legal Society’s effort to start legal aid ministries. John pulled together desk reference manuals and some training, but was unable to land on a simple “out of the box” tool kit. Administer Justice had developed many pieces of a tool kit as one of the leading legal aid ministries in America, but also reached a plateau in expansion with too complicated a system. Together John and I prayed. We gathered a wise board and persevered in multiple efforts.
Today legal ministry is literally turn key. With a USB key drive containing simple one-page client form, one-page lawyer form, one-page limited engagement agreement, best practice guides, promotion, training and other forms, this is literally “plug and play”. Along with the USB drive comes a box of supplies with training and instruction for simple out of the box operation. The unique client help and hope folders with legal, social and spiritual information provide transformative impact. One of our critical final pieces needed was a gospel tract created to reflect our struggles with injustice.
Once open, we have regular ongoing support for team members, assessments for growth, a national conference for inspiration and information, and a strong national support team.
Contact Carissa – firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.
Initiative Two: Self-sustaining business model
Cost was one of the greatest impediments to starting a legal ministry. Most churches and organizations wanted separate 501(c)(3) status for liability purposes. That created significant reporting and management needs. Insurance was required. Tracking data was difficult and limited. Coordinating volunteers was a challenge. Consequently, few ministries started and more failed.
The Initiative explored multiple ways to remove this barrier. Several pieces were required. As our logo demonstrates, it takes many hands to bring the light of justice into the darkness created by legal challenges.
Hand One: Torchbearers
Nothing is free. There is a real cost to an out of the box kit, banner, web site, cloud-based data/volunteer management system, insurance, scheduling system and back-end office operational support. That cost initially is $5,000 and less in ongoing years.
These individuals and businesses are our torchbearers. They make it possible to open a gospel justice center in a community with needs.
Hand Two: Church or host site
A local chapter operates under our national 501(c)(3) umbrella so the church or host site has no liability concerns. The local chapter has no management and reporting concerns. One simple document allows them to open and operate a legal ministry with demonstrated life-changing impact. The church provides volunteers and becomes a place of hope and trust in the community. People walk in the doors on Saturday who would never walk in the doors on Sunday. When they meet the caring team on Saturday, many come back the next day!
Financially, once opened a center is sustained by collecting one-time $30 dignity fees from clients. With the average lawyer fee being over $300/hr. and not including social and spiritual support, this is an amazing value. Clients value service more when they contribute something to the process. These fees return to the national office so we can continue to provide insurance, database system, web site and support. All the local site needs to provide is less than $100 in ongoing supplies.
Learn more by downloading our guide, How to See Gospel Impact through Justice in Your Community
Initiative Three: Specific Volunteer Team equipped to serve legal, social and spiritual needs.
Faith based legal aid organizations do exist. They are few, but most operate like law offices. Those groups that were all-volunteer tended to be comprised solely of lawyers or only one or two support volunteers. That severely diminishes impact and sustainability.
The Initiative engaged in significant market testing over various roles to find the perfect team for sustainable impact. A Justice Champion leads the team, coordinates with the host site and us, and communicates impact. A Community Advocate connects with the local community to find referral resources and to spread the word so clients know where to come for help. A Hospitality person sets up coffee, treats and toys for kids while welcoming clients. An Intake Specialist greets and has the forms to complete and inputs data into the system. An attorney is trained for providing a specific next steps plan. A Client Advocate ensures clients understand the plan and adds social and spiritual support. A phone follow-up person continues to walk alongside the client for accountability and support. A prayer person completes prayer cards, client packets, and serves as an on-site chaplain. An interpreter is available if needed.
This team represents many members of the body of Christ working together to provide the help of a lawyer and the hope of the gospel to neighbors in need.
If you are an attorney learn more by downloading our guide, “How to have Life-Changing Impact through Legal Ministry.”
Now is the time to Administer Justice!
Last year 30 new neighborhoods opened their doors because of this unique model that makes high impact legal ministry possible. Now that the preliminary work is done we are ready to Administer Justice.
Administer Justice will implement the tools created. We are trusting God for 50 new neighborhoods this year as we move forward on the vision of 1,000 gospel justice centers transforming lives. Thank you for your participation and support. It takes many hands working together to administer justice for all.
Please consider donating to expand this ministry opportunity.