Monday, September 03, 2007

Social Action-Gospel Dichotomy in Mission

This question still lingers in my mind, why do NGOs that specializes in social actions could not work side by side with a local church? Yes, they have a relationship but the relationship seems to be concerned on the business side and is so fragile. I have high hopes that an NGO here could develop a partnership with a church for the sake of the gospel, but I know I was just dreaming. In reality, the NGO is more concern on the physical needs of the people. I admire their desire to provide for the spiritual needs of the people but how can they do it without the help of worshiping community. And how could a community extend its social ministry when it could not even sustain itself. Lesslie Newbigin rightly observes that:

The concern of those who see mission primarily in terms of action for God’s justice is embodied mainly in programs carried on at a supracongregational level by boards and committees, whether national or ecumenical. The concern of those who see mission primarily in terms of personal conversion is expressed mainly at the level of congregational life. The effect of this is that each is robbed of its character by its separation from the other. Christian programs for justice and compassion are severed from their proper roots in the liturgical and sacramental life of the congregation, and so lose their character as signs of the presence of Christ and risk becoming mere crusades fueled by a moralism that can become self-righteous. And the life of the worshipping congregation, severed from its proper expression in compassionate service to the secular community around it, becoming a self-centered existence serving only the needs of its members. Thus both sides of the dichotomy find good reasons for caricaturing each other, and mutual distrust deepens.
Lesslie Newbigin, The Open Secret: An Introductin to the Theology of Mission, p 10


Lazarus said...

pastor joey, in our church we have Compassion ( as our partner. It's a child sponsorship program. I'm not sure if they operate in your place.

Joey said...

Yes, I know about Compassion and actually my wife attended one of their seminars here in Thailand. I just don't think a real partnership with local churches exist. Usually they work on their own. They may partner with a church which may serve their end but they would terminate it as soon as a church is no longer useful. The blame of course, goes both ways.