Evangelism and Social Holiness

In my travels and reading I constantly come across the deep Methodist Conviction that Social and Personal Holiness go together.  In fact, Professor Ted Campbell (Perkins School of Theology) notes in his excellent summary Methodist Doctrine: The Essentials this conviction with the comment that the “Methodist ethos” combined “strict personal morality and progressive social morality” (see p. 96). Doctrinally this was and is(!) held together by yoking “justification” with “sanctification.”  While distinct tasks, evangelism (sharing the good news of Christ -- witness, calling for conversion and repentance) and social holiness cannot be separated.  This much most modern United Methodist can heartily agree upon. The struggle as I see it comes in the application.  We still tend to think of an either/or rather than a both/and.  Dr. Reggie McNeal (Missional Renaissance) spoke to us on how we yoke the two in our learning Summit a couple of years ago.  Recently, I received a letter from one of our pastors that spoke of how they are attempting to do so.  It’s worth sharing and commending.  I do so with Pastor Leah Hidde-Gregory’s permission.

I wanted to add that the outreach of our church is done out of social holiness.  Very few people come into our food pantry without being offered a time of prayer.  We have Bibles available to give away in both English and Spanish.   Several people have come to our church after having developed relationships with our members who volunteer at the community center.  If we are going to be in ministry out of a love for Jesus Christ, then we need to tell others about our motivation.   If I were to eat at a great new restaurant, I would tell my friends.   If I watched a great new television show, I would tell someone.   It only stands to reason, that when we encounter the Risen Christ and experience transformational events on our faith journey, we cannot help but sing God's glory   (Rev. Leah Hidde-Gregory, Pastor Frost-Italy Charge, email 02-23-12).

Last Sunday worshipping at Genesis, Rev. Ginger Watson shared a similar story of how neighbors invited people to an open house and graciously shared a witness about their church and ministry (which is not United Methodist).  Both remind me of the critical need to explicitly connect (or should I say reconnect evangelism and social holiness).