What Is The Relationship Between Evangelism & Social Action?

I can still hear my mother saying, “child, your say and your do must line up, you are God’s hands, feet and heart! Your heart to love God and your hands and feet to serve others.” Translation; your words and your actions must be consistent. The Apostle Paul confirms mamma’s theology, he writes in Colossians three “And whatever you do, in word or deed, (action) do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, …” Mamma, exemplified her message, she glorified God by serving others, and I was privileged to learn from her ministry. So, like the Apostle Paul, what I have received from my mother I give too you. I have added support to mamma’s point of view.

Samuel Hugh Moffett in Evangelism: The Leading Partner, argues that “Christians are call to engage in both evangelism and social action.”1
As disciples, we are to witness to others about Jesus and to demonstrate our love for Christ and the organic church through our service.

In I Peter 3:15, Peter reminds believers, “…You must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if you are asked about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.”2 Peter gives the impression that worshipping Christ as Lord comes first. As a result, the outward show of our worship, will present us with opportunities to explain the reason behind our veneration and the reason behind our hope. Samuel Moffett makes a similar assertion: “in the Christian mission our vertical relationship to God comes first. Our horizontal relationship to our neighbor is “like unto it” and is just as indispensable, but it is still second.”3
In addition, Moffett argues that evangelism should take precedence over other ministries. He states, “The supreme task of the Church, then, now and for the future is evangelism.”4 Tim Dearborn in Beyond Duty, also stated, “We are witnesses to great hope, not merely great hurt.”5

These authors are not suggesting that the Church should not be actively engaged in social action ministries. Since, the Church in missions is known for its social action ministry. In fact, there is still a need to feed the poor. There is still a need to provide adequate drinking water to persons who have no access to drinking water. There is still a need to care for the sick, the displaced, and the oppressed. However, they seem to echo the word of C. Peter Wagner, “while we must not neglect our Christian social responsibility, it must never get in the way of soul-winning evangelism.” 6 Luke 19:10 reminds us that Jesus came “to seek and save…those who are lost.”7

Finally, Wagner suggests that evangelism in missions today should have a three-pronged approach: presence, proclamation and persuasion. “Presence holds that evangelism is helping people to fulfill their needs. Proclamation…says that evangelism is making known the message of Jesus so that people hear it and understand it. Persuasion argues that…biblical evangelism goes beyond that and insists on making disciples.”5 Matthew 28:19 continues to remind us that we are to “make disciples of all nations…”9

In summary, the church cannot be passive about either Evangelism or social – community involvement as they both require Christlikeness. Jesus said in essence if I do the works of my Father and you do not believe me, then believe the works so you may know that the Father is in me7 – John 10: 36-37.

Therefore, what we say and do must be credible – believable. The thought is that our actions towards others will prove the credibility of our words. The two are inseparable, proving that we are Christians, women of worth. (WOW)

By: Pastor Angie Snow
April 28, 2016, (updated) April 19, 2017

Hayford, Jack W. New Spirit Filled Life Bible NLT. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2013.
Ralph D. Winter, Steven C. Hawthorne. Perspectives On The World Christian Movement. Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2009.