Over the past twenty-five years the social teaching of both the Roman Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches has produced critiques of the dominant capitalist and socialist theories of development. The teaching focuses on issues of justice and liberation, and on the poor and oppressed peoples of the world who must become the primary beneficiaries of development programmes. In New Zealand the churches, which have a history of ecumenical cooperation, jointly established an agency to pursue development education and action in a manner consistent with this social teaching. The agency was established in the course of a conference which helped participants reflect on an exposure to situations of poverty in Auckland, and it has consistently followed this action-reflection methodology. Its founders committed it to a structural change approach to development rather than to concepts of incremental planned change. The agency (The Ecumenical Secretariat on Development, ESOD) has employed the community organization techniques of Saul Alinsky, complemented by the conscientization methodology developed by Paulo Freire, as tools for the establishment of a socialist society. These techniques, promoted amongst groups working for justice and liberation in New Zealand, provoked a demand for more disciplined analysis, as pieces of local action recognized the need to relate to a global perspective. In response, the agency developed a programme of structural analysis, "Education for Social Change", which is based on learnings from both historicist and structuralist marxist schools. Analysis in turn has revealed the limitations of the community organization approach unless it is linked to fundamental political processes. Commitment to the need for structural change in society, and to the poor and oppressed as agents of change, inevitably brought the agency into conflict not just with the political establishment, but with elements within the churches.