CHURCH & MINISTRY
Global Action: Social Justice and the Great Commission
By MeLissa LeFleur
Continued From Global Action
We recently read a compelling article about Phil Long, so we sat down with the author to discuss the topic further. We found out he's a great guy, committed to doing what the Lord wants him to do, an LSU football fan (we won't hold that against him), and a father of two great kids. He is also president of Global Action, a well-respected discipleship ministry.
In your article, you talk about how the church should stay focused on making disciples rather than being distracted by humanitarian and social justice efforts. Where do humanitarian efforts fit in? How do we know where that balance is between humanitarian and discipleship?
First of all, I don't want to be critical of humanitarian causes and social justice organizations. I want to talk about the local church and that is what I'm addressing in that article. The church has focused so much emphasis on humanitarian and social justice in an attempt to make the world a better place. The world, as it is now, is not becoming a better place. For all of our efforts, look at all that is going on. The church is not going to make the world a better place.
What the church does is make disciples and strengthen believers. Then as believers do what they are supposed to do, they take care of the humanitarian and social needs on the local level. I think a church is missing the point when they try to do it as an organization. Rather, get the people in the church to do what they are supposed to do. Equip and empower the people to do the work of the ministry. That's the job of the local church leaders, to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry, rather than organizing the institution to do the work of the ministry.
So you're saying that it's a matter of focus. Correct?
Yes. What's the church called to do? We're called to preach the gospel and disciple others. A friend of mine is known for saying, "You can feed all the people in the world, but if they go to hell, they went with a full belly." That's not the goal of the church. We're to lead people to Jesus and be light and salt.
Can you give us an example?
Having lived on the mission field for many years and in developing countries, I've seen the cart put before the horse many times. An organization will think that if they go into a community and provide food and water for them, the people will believe anything they tell them. That's so arrogant. But when the local church does it, the community says, "What's so different about you?" We want to empower the locals to share the gospel and serve their community.
What can the average Christian in a developed country do to help church leaders in a developing country?
Many Christians say, "I can't sell everything I have and move to Africa." I realize that not everyone can do that. So, when Jesus talks about us being witnesses in all the world, it's not about taking care of our "Jerusalem" and farming out our responsibility to missionaries to go to the uttermost part of the world. But, the reality is that we can't all move to Africa. So how are we to respond?
Here are some ideas:
- You can pray for the world. Pray for nations.
- Give to things that make a difference.
- Go whenever possible. Get out there and see it. It gives you a greater burden to pray and give.
- Get involved in a local church that has a heart for world missions. By that, I don't mean that they give a bunch of money to missionaries. Find a church that really has a heart for world missions. It is one of our core responsibilities of the church — to carry the gospel to the entire world.
- Pick a missionary or a place in the world and make a connection with them. Give to them, pray for them, partner with them. Become personally involved in their ministry, beyond writing the check.
When I was 8-years-old, I read a book about Hudson Taylor and I felt like at that moment God called me and said, "That's what you're going to do with your life." It's been a passion of mine ever since to empower and equip believers to grow spiritually and lead others. It continues to be the passion within me.
To learn more about Global Action and what God is doing in the developing world, visit their website.
Tags: Biblical-Salvation | Ministry-Church
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