Thursday, August 11, 2005

Future Trends 3: Social Justice

While the liberal church has always been a champion for social causes, many in conservative, evangelical churches have failed to engage the social issues of their day because of a fear that they would lose their passion for the gospel. I think a third major trend that will shape the future of the evangelical church will be a passion to engage on the major social issues of our day. We have already been hard at work on the social issues of abortion and marriage, but I'm talking about other worldwide social issues. The evangelical church is bound to wake up soon to realize that while around 3500 abortions occur daily in the US, about 30,000 children die each day in the world because malnutrition and preventable diseases. A future trend in the church is going to be a sincere concern for the weakest among us (like the unborn, the handicapped, the elderly, children, etc.). There is going to be an engagement in the world unlike what any previous generation has seen. This will occur for two reasons.

First, the next generation of church leaders will realize the need to have a holistic gospel - a gospel that speaks toward the individual's destiny for eternity and toward the individual's life today. Whereas the church has become complacent to encourage a "personal" faith, the church of the future will challenge followers of Christ to give their whole lives to living as Jesus lived. This will include a new emphasis on what it means to be a follower of Christ in community with other Christians and in community with the world. I believe that post-modernism will drive the church to engage the culture based on biblical values and not to run from it. This engagement will challenge Christ-followers to have a holistic view of the impact of the gospel and not just a personal view.

Second, the worldwide environment we live in will make the distance between countries and peoples increasingly smaller. The time it takes for world events to get from the actual scene to my laptop is now seconds. This type of technological environment makes it hard for Christians to act like they don't know about what is happening to their brothers and sisters around the world. In fact, the new generation of church leaders, having grown up in a web-savvy world, will continue to challenge the church to look at the whole world when talking about the church and not just America.

These two trends - a holistic gospel and a smaller world - will lead the evangelical church to engage the major social justice issues of our days (poverty, racial conflict, ethnic conflict, AIDS, etc.) without losing its passion for the saving message of Christ crucified.

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