I encourage you to go and read Ed Stetzer’s piece at CT, “New Research: Protestants Increase Involvement in Social Justice.” Stetzer cites recent research that indicates that Protestant churches in the U.S. are having a growing awareness of and involvement in social justice ministries “aimed at caring for the forgotten, disenfranchised, and oppressed.”
I’d like to know what you think of his findings.
I’d also like to know if you have found this true in your experience with churches recently. Is there more of an emphasis on caring for the poor and marginalized? If so, how does this manifest itself? What do you see churches and Christian people actually doing in service to their needy neighbors?
Stetzer offers this theological conclusion to his piece, which I think is pretty good:
Jesus defined his ministry as being focused on the poor, the captive, the blind, the oppressed (see Luke 4:18). So we join him on mission not only when we proclaim the gospel but also when we confront injustice, touch human need, and seek to bring about changes that make at least one part of the world more like God intends it to be.
Because Christ’s reign has already been inaugurated though not completed, the church has a meaningful role within the “already, but not yet” time we call the present. More than just “having a role,” we sense inside us a God-given desire to serve the hurting, to restore the broken, and to minister to the marginalized with the tools and opportunities God has placed at our disposal.
Christians have always believed that they can’t preach Jesus and not care about justice or, conversely, that they can’t have true justice without pointing people toward Jesus the Just. The numbers seem to show that more churches are catching that mission.
Words are good, but what are you seeing on the ground?