How to advocate
Ultimately, advocacy is about helping to make things right for people. Listen directly to those who are affected by a particular problem. Ask them how you could help to “amplify” their voice. Be guided by their counsel. If you are directly affected, talk to others around you who might also be affected.
“We are not ‘a voice for the voiceless;’ we lend our privilege as a megaphone.”
- Samantha Baker Evens
Make sure that you understand the issue but also do not discount your personal expertise—particularly if it is an issue that directly affects you or those close to you. Read about the issue carefully and critically. Talk to others. Expose yourself to different viewpoints. Look to reputable organizations and institutions for analysis and reflection. Get the best information you can.
Take care in planning your advocacy strategy. While there are moments for spontaneous action, your advocacy is likely to be more successful if it is carefully planned. Be clear on your objectives and what you hope to achieve. Anticipate the resistance you may encounter.
If you are a person of faith, spend time in prayer, seeking wisdom and guidance as you accompany those who are asking for advocacy. Pray for strength, courage and perseverance to face disappointment and discouragement and to persist for the long haul. Consider embracing a “spirituality” of advocacy.
Visiting a legislator's office locally or in your nation’s capital can be a very effective way for a citizen to engage in advocacy. Recesses are an excellent time to meet locally with your legislator. See the recess schedules for the House and the Senate in Washington, the House of Commons in Ottawa and Queen’s Park in Ontario.
Legislators in Canada include Members of Parliament and Senators.
Legislators in the U.S. include Members of the House and Senate.
Legislators in Ontario include Members of Provincial Parliament.
Letters, phone calls and emails are also excellent means to educate and persuade your government representatives (the members of Congress or Member of Parliament from your area). Emails are good ways to ensure timely delivery of your views while providing a written record of your communication.
Frequently asked questions
If a bill has passed in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate and has been approved by the President, or if a presidential veto has been overridden, the bill becomes a law and is enforced by the government.
To become Canadian federal law, a bill must be approved in identical form by both houses of Parliament – the Senate and the House of Commons. All bills follow a process of debate, review and voting. After a bill is passed by both the Senate and the House of Commons, the Governor General grants Royal Assent and the bill becomes a law.
Scripture has much to say about how we are to interact with governments. When we as Anabaptists engage with governing officials, we should do so out of our lived witness as a church. When we are actively engaging issues of justice such as poverty and race in our churches, we quickly realize that these are deeply systemic issues which need to be addressed—not just at the personal or congregational level, but also at the societal level through more just policies. This gives our witness to government both integrity and humility.
Explore MCC’s collection of advocacy-related resources. This includes articles, reading lists, stories, toolkits and more. We hope you find something for you, your family, your class or congregation that encourages and equips you on your advocacy journey.
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