I believe the primary mission of the local church to the lost is to provide not material, but spiritual relief by proclaiming the good news of eternal life by grace through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In times of crisis, our primary mission as the local church is to offer comfort, hope, and biblical counsel to help people respond to trials and suffering in a way that glorifies God and helps them grow to better know, love, and follow Christ.
This position is rather unpopular in our current climate, especially in light of the recent conversations surrounding social justice and the gospel. One of the issues that I’ve seen rise to the surface in the midst of the vitriolic attack, debate, and defense of the SJ&G Statement, is a failure to distinguish between an individual Christian’s responsibility and interaction with the world, and the local church as a corporate body holding the keys of the kingdom. That distinction is crucial in understanding our role in the community, culture, political sphere, and world.
It’s challenging to sort through the various factors at play in seeking to understand the church’s social responsibility, and especially difficult to articulate this position, for a number of reasons. I encourage you to prayerfully consider this list of resources as you seek to understand the church’s responsibility, our responsibility as individual Christian citizens, and the relationship between evangelism and material aid.
The Social Responsibility of the Local Church and the Mission of Missions
Responding to Tragedy by Giving Money (practical steps)
The Social Responsibility of the Church (PDF by Benware)
Problems with Social Action in Missions (Cripplegate Series):