Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thought for Thursday

Something I've been pondering:

Why is it so much more acceptable (even in the church) to talk about social justice issues than to talk about evangelism? Is this biblical? Is this true?

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

jesus is offensive.
social justice can be construed as political, social, and "good". it doesnt have to have anything to do with jesus. anyone of any faith will accept you doing good things for those in need... they can ignore that you are doing it for jesus if you don't ever mention it.

Anonymous said...

Social justice is the gospel. It is the good news to people in captivity.

Cindy said...

many would rather help the poor or the helpless because it is possible to help and then go home to our comfy place. There is risk in reaching out to the unchurched or unreached people...it might mean personal sacrifice...it
might mean leaving our comfy places.

Mike said...

It's interesting ... I'm not even sure that the term "social justice" isn't a contradiction. I think what Christians often (though admittedly not always) mean by "social justice" is really mercy work, but that's beside the point. (I realized near the end of writing this comment that I was thinking largely of helping the poor, but there are certainly places in the world in which we are literally dealing with injustices, and I do think the term makes sense in those contexts.) Anyway....

I think whether or not this is even true depends on one's church community. In the last church I was in, very little was said about social justice (there I go saying 'social justice') at all (especially in the local community ... some was said in the context of overseas missions), but a great emphasis was placed on evangelism, and giving to missionary work. I do know that people in that congregation (and that congregation as a whole) DID help the poor in the area, but such things were not often talked about.

It was oddly shocking to me when I got to Grace and suddenly there was a larger emphasis on social justice/mercy work. It really threw me, and yet is very cool. However, I do think that, in this particular community, evangelism (as something emphasized strongly and regularly by church leadership) lags a little behind, and maybe deserves a greater emphasis. This could be my Campus Crusade background talking, and so that comment should be taken with a grain of salt.

And now I'm rambling so much that I don't even remember the original question, but think instead that I should study for my exam tomorrow. :)

crystal said...

in my perspective, you can't separate the two if you want to love the way that Jesus loved. This being said, talking about "evangelism" just isn't as cool anymore. I mean, Bono talks about social justice. I'm wondering why it is more socially acceptable to talk about feeding hungry people (whether or not its in the name of Jesus) than to talk about telling your neighbor how to follow Christ. Just a clarification.

Renee said...

Sometime fads are just fads. Its way cooler to talk about social justice, helping the poor, etc. However, I think its important to separate words from deeds. Even though something isn't as "cool" to talk about, doesn't mean its not happening. I also think its a generational thing. Talk to people in their forties and fifties, what did they talk about when they were our age? Just some thoughts. Thanks for starting the conversation.

crystal said...

That's a good clarification, Renee. My experience has been that caring deeply and "incarnationally" about people's physical needs often leads to their hearts softening toward spiritual need. Just because it isn't talked about doesn't mean its not happening. And yes, I think evangelism was a buzz word in a generation. I just hope that in all this people are hearing about Jesus. This coming from my mouth - that finds it scary to initiate conversations about Him.

Renee said...

I think I struggle because friends of mine have either been burned or have a horrible stereotype of Christians. I feel I'm constantly trying to change people's minds about what it means to be a "God kid" or whatever labels are out there. In some ways its a higher standard because I never know when someone I've often interacted with will "find out" that I'm "religious". Its a weird dynamic. (anything in quotes are labels that have been attached to me within my circle of non-christian friends.)

Stefan, Sarah and Lukka said...

All talking about Bono aside (I really don't get the guy..but that is another day!)

My best answer for this question is that it will naturally happen if you are reaching out to a community/subgroup in need of Christ's love.

The best example I can give is how our friends in Vancouver are doing this--they have bought an old building in one fo the worst parts of town and have turned it into a "drop-in-center"...it works as a meeting place for things like Teen Mom groups, rec hours, concerts, etc. All the people that run it are Christians from one church who wanted to reach out to the youth in this area (they literally had NO place to go in this community). Through getting to know the kids gradually through conversation or just hanging out with them, the kids would gravitate towards more deeper conversation--at which point was usually when Christianity would first come up.
The center had rules that everyone had to live with or risk being kicked out (i.e. no promiscuity on the premises or selling/doing drugs) but it was a 'safe haven' of sorts. It is believed by the people who run this that through meaningful relationships is really where lasting Christianity/Evangelism will really take place in people's hearts, then those people reaching out to others, etc.etc.
That is why Stefan and I are such big believers in community over corporate worship--G.C is the closest thing we can find to that.
Sarah
PS-I am not scared of the word evangelism, but people who just tell a random group of people the "5 ways to salvation" or whatever scare me!!

crystal said...

I hear you, Sarah! I think I got a bit too much of that in high school and college. But I think what you described is awesome. And what Cindy said up top is great as well - it takes living, sacrificing, loving, BEING with people.

And Renee, I think anyone who knows you who may not know Jesus would be forced to rethink their stereotypes.

Eric said...

Crystal,
What was going to be a short comment turned into a blog series :) You're welcome to read/respond if you want, there will be several posts on evangelism in the next few days.
Hope you guys are doing well!