The Justice Imagination Lab

written by Kat Bair
5 · 09 · 23

Sometimes the most significant barrier between where we are and where we’re being called to go is simply a lack of imagination. We get easily sucked into patterns of what is and what always has been, so when we see an invitation to new work we are called into, we ignore the call or walk away because we simply can’t imagine how it would work. We are too small, too busy, too stuck. 

Author, pastor, and Ministry Incubators coach Gabby Wilkes (@drgabbycwilkes) and her husband Andrew seek to remedy that exact deficit in their new Justice Imagination Lab. The Justice Imagination Lab emerges out of their work in their incredible book, Psalms for Black Lives. In the book they propose a model of “Justice Imagination” that calls for Christians to respond to the places of brokenness and injustice around them with imagination rooted in lament, celebration, envisioning and emboldening. 

In this phase of their book tour they walk participants through a Justice Imagination Lab experience where they learn about these principles and then workshop them for issues facing their own communities. According to Wilkes, the framing of this work as imaginative allows for more expansive thinking about what leaders are called to,

It helps me to not be limited by lack of funding, small teams, fewer resources and all of the other issues that threaten the reach of my work. Imagination helps me say – this is still possible. Somehow. 

Gabby Wilkes

What do you and your context need a bit more imagination for? What work do you feel called to that you find yourself hesitating to begin because it’s just too big, too expensive, too difficult? How could carving out some space for intentional imagination allow for ideas to flourish that you are currently unable to see?

We at Ministry Incubators are big believers in playful, imaginative, problem solving, and in helping leaders get out of their own way when it comes to seeing a way out of seemingly impossible problems. In a cultural moment full of political division, systemic injustice, and anxiety about the future, a discipline of imagination can help lead us towards paths of hope, justice, and unity that are only possible with the Holy Spirit. 

We are grateful for the witness and wisdom of our dear friend Gabby, and hope that we can all be inspired to stretch our understanding of what is possible, and what it is that God could be calling us to do in our communities with the resources we have. 

You can learn more about the Justice Imagination Lab (and the possibility of bringing it to your community) here. You can also check out Psalms for Black Lives here, and follow Gabby Wilkes here.


Kat Bair

Related Posts

Point of Origin

Point of Origin

A little more than a year ago, I told you all about the Compelling Preaching Initiative that was being funded by the Lilly Endowment. I told you all about how excited I was to be working with the Mountain Sky Conference on their application and how Bishop Oliveto (who...

Clarity is Kindess

Clarity is Kindess

We’ve talked on this blog before about the importance of being crystal clear on who you are as a community before embarking on the work of innovation. About how, when a community doesn’t have a clear sense of mission and values, change is difficult, because, without a...

What Your Coach Wants You to Know

What Your Coach Wants You to Know

A dear friend of mine in ministry (we’ll call him Brian) was recently assigned a coach by his supervisors. Their relationship is beginning with an on-site visit, and in the lead-up to the visit, his mounting unease about having an outsider in his space led to a lot of...