Sunday, April 27, 2008

All the Cool Kids Are Doing It

It's the new trend. Social Activism.
Brad Pitt's doing it by working real hard to get New Orleans back up and running.
Angelina Jolie's doing it with some third world country. Sorry, but I can't ever remember what country she's trying to save or adopt from.
Oprah's doing it with South Africa and her big television show.
All the people with American Idol are doing it.

But why are they doing it and who are they doing it for? They're doing it for Brad Pitt, and Angelina Jolie, and Oprah, and all the American Idol people.

In worship this morning, our precious little worship leader had just come back from a conference, and the thing he brought back from the trip was that everyone's into social activism, but everyone's divorcing it from evangelism. That's the word he (and I'm sure the speaker) used. Divorced. In our American culture nowadays, we've divorced social activism and evangelism.

As Christians, we should not be okay with the situation in Darfur and Sudan and the other myriad of other places in the world that are really having a hard go of it, and most of us aren't. But are we thinking of it in terms of evangelism? I'll admit that I'm not. I'm not happy with the stuff going on over there and I want to go over there and help and the fixer in me wants to head over there and make it all better. But the thought of pairing the help and the fixing and the service with evangelism has been a little lost on me. And I'm embarassed to admit that.

My thoughts on this aren't complete. I'm bouncing it around in my head, and I'm not sure if there's a point to my rambling thoughts yet. But as I prepare for a potential trip to Guatemala this summer, I think I better make some sense of it before then.


  1. While I appreciate the sentiments of your worship leader...

    ...sometimes that "divorce" of social activism & evangelism is actually biblical. One of the main hindrances of the Gospel message from Americans has been that we follow a pattern--that we actually view the people we're serving as "targets" and not simply loving them and serving them. In other words, it's seen as a manipulative agenda.

    There's where we need to be extremely sensitive. In other words, are we digging a well so a village may have water, or are we digging a well so they'll accept our God? Love and the manifestation of it will win more souls than a program designed to win souls, IMHO.

    It's about motivation.
    And motivation can be hard to measure.

    And don't even get me started on whether or not a well is the most loving thing or telling them about Christ is the most loving thing, because that makes the question even more confusing.

  2. To be honest, I let out a sigh of relief when I read your comment. I think one of the reasons I mentioned that I'm embarrassed by how little of it I do, because evangelism is not my gift, but service is, which is why I love the mission trips I go on: our goal is not to evangelize people, it's to help people out and love on them. Evangelism just makes my head spin sometimes, whereas looking at someone and saying "you need help with this, and I can help you" is so much more important to me.

    I dunno. Still bouncing it around in my head. Of course, why do I think I'll come up with a difinitive answer?



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