Evangelical Enthusiasm for Social Justice: Fad or Faith?

A Gospel Lens


In today's generation, we have seen a rise in concern about worldwide social justice. While this is a huge positive to be celebrated, some have voiced concern over whether the passion among evangelicals comes from enthusiasm over a passing fad or a true and abiding commitment to the Great Commission. What does it mean for Christians to engage in issues of social justice in a way that clearly communicates the gospel of Jesus Christ? John Piper, Matt Chandler, and David Platt share their encouragements and their concerns about the state of young evangelicals and offers some practical suggestions for shepherding the body of Christ towards faithful engagement in the world.

John Piper is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and Chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. David Platt is the President of the International Mission Board and He is the author of the New York Times Best Seller Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream. Matt serves as Lead Pastor of Teaching at The Village Church in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and serves as the President of Acts 29, a worldwide church-planting organization.


How do you tend to view social justice efforts? Do see them as valuable? In what ways are you encouraged by this generation's passion for them? What are your concerns?
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What is your congregation's attitude towards social justice? Have you experienced the same zeal described in the video? If so, are there specific issues emphasized more than others?
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David mentioned how his church stresses working for justice in the world by speaking clearly about the true Judge of the world. What do you think it looks like to tie social justice to personal evangelism? Have you seen this done well? If so, what were some of the characteristics that made it successful?
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In addition to personal evangelism, people must make personal holiness a priority. Like David said, it is useless to fight sex trafficking while consuming pornography on the side. How does devaluing personal holiness render our witness ineffective? Have you seen this in your own experience? If so, how? What do you think it looks like to take seriously personal holiness?
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Matt shared that his church does not set out to build programs for engaging social justice issues. Rather, they have chosen to focus on communicating a gospel lens to their people that demonstrates how God's Word connects to problems in the world. Out of this, individuals in their congregation have established ministries devoted to social justice from a passion for the Great Commission. 

How does your church train its people towards social justice? Would you say you effectively demonstrate the ways in which the gospel meets the needs of the world? If not, why? What could you change to be more effective?
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Matt said that he encourages people to "be where you are" instead of jumping into social justice issues elsewhere. What opportunities do you have to serve the needs of others where God has placed you? Are you able to identify disciple-making possibilities? If not, what stands in the way?
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John voiced his concern that fear causes many today to capitulate on important gospel issues. Have you observed this with your church? Have you experienced it personally? What would you say are the some of the reasons behind this kind of fear? What are some healthy steps to take for walking in faithful courage?
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The church has a responsibility to speak out on social justice issues, but we must remember that they are not the fundamental need. Rather, they must be pursued out of the grace of the gospel and a faithfulness to the Great Commission. As Christians, we must be mindful of a person's eternal need as we seek to care for their present needs. Make every effort to train your people in a robust gospel—one that connects to the brokenness of humanity in order that they might see the hope of Christ's transformative power for all.


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