The Church Pendulum

The Pendulum swings back and forth in the church.

Back in the day it was called “The Social Gospel” and it was more about meeting physical needs than preaching the gospel. Don’t read into what I’m not saying. I’m not saying thats not important, just saying that there should be balance.

Then later it became all preaching the gospel and very little if any meeting of needs.

Fast forward to modern day 21st Century American Christianity. Social justice is more en vogue than ever before. While I am a huge fan of many of the amazing groups out there pulling people out of sex slavery, digging wells and what not, we cannot neglect the preaching of the gospel.

We don’t need one and not the other, we always need both.

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7 thoughts on “The Church Pendulum

  1. Amen. I was having a conversation with someone about this the other day and he speculated that, in our lifetimes, we’ll see the pendulum swing back the other direction (towards preaching the gospel and very little if any meeting of needs)…

    I agree with you though. The balance is key. The meeting of physical needs should be a response to and a vehicle for powerful preaching of the Gospel. You can’t, or at least shouldn’t, have one without the other.

  2. I agree that there needs to be both. I didn’t get saved by a church that focused on meeting needs more than preaching the gospel. But after coming to Christ I often felt like I should be doing more to help the needy.

    I would like to see the church meet more needs like in Acts 3:6 http://read.ly/Acts3.6 .

  3. Good post Ross. Without the Gospel there can be no transformation of hearts which lead to transformation of the culture as the Kingdom of God – his rule in our lives – changes things from the inside out. I am all for social justice but in the effort to combat the evil forces in the world we have to realize that we are fighting governmental and economic systems that only contribute to and enforce the injustice in much of the world. An example is a place like Cambodia which has an enormous amount of human trafficking. Impoverished nations like this are so troubled economically that many families sell their children to relieve them of an extra mouth to feed. It is a horrible situation and until the reign of Jesus Christ comes and the sanctity of human life is regarded, never mind a transformation of an economic and governmental climate, etc. (and I have no idea what that would take) just trying to fight injustice is not enough no matter how great the intentions and heart behind it. As you and others said, we need both, we need a Kingdom-centered movement that brings people into relationship with Jesus first and teaches them how to follow him (which of course includes taking care of those in need). And a reminder that it will take more than one generation to see change come. God is just but His justice as we desire to see it may not come when we think it should.

    Sorry to be so long-winded!

  4. I don’t think these things are mutually exclusive. I think promoting social justice and fighting injustice everywhere do not have to be done in a gospel-less vacuum. I would further argue that struggling for justice will strengthen your preaching of the gospel.

  5. Social Justice has become very popular among celebrities and studies show the millennial generation as a whole is very big into it as well. So it’s no surprise that it has also become big in the church. (It’s probably a cultural cycle as well). How much does technology have to do with it? Do more people now know what is going because of today’s communication or is it easier to get the message out because of technology? That would have to have at least some impact in my opinion.

    When I see a church or ministry do these social justice type of things I see them showing the love of the Father. We can preach sin and salvation all we want but many times the open door to bring people into the Kingdom is just to love them like Jesus did. You can preach sin and salvation to a starving tribe in Africa all you want, but it won’t help them in their immediate need (food). While displaying the love of the Father and feeding them, digging a well, bringing medicine and loving on them will teach them more about Jesus than any sermon.

    Showing the love of the Father is the only way the homosexual community is going to be reached. Preaching for the most part isn’t going to reach the lost (unless they are in a church service). So while I fully believe in preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, I guess I just see Jesus doing it a lot differently than we do today in the modern church.

  6. Good thoughts everyone, its an interesting line to walk and interesting to observe and watch the church wrestle through these issues and walk that line.

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