Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Evangelism and social holiness?

Christian History, Spring 2004

Saving Souls & Bodies...Contrary to stereotype, the joy of the holiness life often spilled over into social ministry. By William Kostlevy

For some critics, the term "holiness movement" has conjured images of navel-gazing holy rollers too interested in getting a spiritual thrill or (at most) saving souls to care about alleviating social distress. This caricature is simply not accurate. The movement's most enduring legacy is a nationwide network of missions to the socially and economically disadvantaged—primarily in inner-city neighborhoods.

Holiness leaders, like their eighteenth-century Methodist forebears, taught that sanctification does not stop in the individual heart, but must overflow into "social holiness." Just as cleansing from all sin could occur in this life (against the traditional view that it occurred after the soul left the body, to prepare the believer to stand before a holy God), the ideal of the perfect community was also for today—not to be pushed off into the hereafter.

Powerful article. But purity of heart and compassionate ministry without evangelism doesn't get us where we need to go. Sometimes, we have the mix in many ministries (like the Salvation Army, for instance) that talk about compassion but don't do all that much in evangelism and church growth. If you want a church to get inward fast (and thus Pharisaical) major on purity without a desire to go forth and change the world.

Purity - yes!
Compassion - yes!
Evangelism - yes!

Make that a package deal and you will have a church...and a lifechanging one at that.


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