Is There A Hole In Our Gospel? Does The Church Have A Social Commission Too? -- By: Philippe R. Sterling
JOTGES 24:46 (Spring 2011) p. 83
Is There A Hole In Our Gospel?
Does The Church Have A Social Commission Too?
Vista Ridge Bible Fellowship
Social missions are pervasive in today’s business environment. We see it in the pink coloring of products indicating a small portion of the profit being given to Susan G. Komen for the Cure to help fight breast cancer, Chili’s Grill & Bar encouraging its customers to make a donation for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Ruby Tuesday’s Cookies for a Cause program, or Panera Bread opening Panera Cares Community Cafes. There are consulting firms that help businesses launch social initiatives.1 Cause-related marketing is good for business. Sometimes the best public relations campaign is to be found doing something good.
Popular television shows incorporate social missions in their story lines and activities. American Idol has its “Idol Gives Back” fundraising segment. The Amazing Race (Fall 2010) had its teams take a day off in Ghana to paint a school. The Bachelor (Winter 2011) donated a solar panel for heating water to a school in South Africa.
JOTGES 24:46 (Spring 2011) p. 84
Today’s Evangelical church has not been left behind on this trend. A new Evangelicalism with a new social commission has emerged.
Believers in Christ are called to do good for people. Paul the Apostle exhorted, “While we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith” (Gal 6:10). So, when a movement comes along that wants us to do good works, I’m sure we would agree, “Yes, let’s do them.” But what is being advanced is more than just doing good works. The Christian mission has been redefined and expanded.
Towards the end of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first century many evangelical Christians have taken up contemplative spirituality,2 a return to ritual,3 and a social and environmental mission on par with a spiritual mission. Does the church have a spiritual and social commission?
II. Genesis Of The Evangelical Spiritual/Social Commission
The movement among evangelicals to take up a social and spiritual commission for the church began in a significant way at the First International Congress on World Evangelization called by evangelist Billy Graham, held in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 1974.
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