Kevin DeYoung is nominally appropriately one of the faces of “the young, restless and reformed” movement. I like him. He writes and speaks with a clarity I appreciate and without (mostly) the hubris I’m uncomfortable with in other prominent brothers.
I like what he’s had to say about appropriately defining the missional movement in this post so much that I’m going to post this extended quote from his appearance at the Desiring God conference in the states recently…
“(1) I am concerned that good behaviors are sometimes commended using the wrong categories. For example, many good deeds are promoted under the term “social justice” when I think “love your neighbor” is often a better category. Or, folks will talk about transforming the world, when I think being “a faithful presence in the world” is a better way to describe what we are trying to do and actually can do. Or, sometimes well meaning Christians talk about “building the kingdom” when actually the verbs associated with the kingdom are almost always passive (enter, receive, inherit). We’d do better to speak of living as citizens of the kingdom, rather than telling our people they build the kingdom.
(2) I am concerned that in our new found missional zeal we sometimes put hard “oughts” on Christians where there should be inviting “cans.” You ought to do something about human trafficking. You ought to do something about AIDS. You ought to do something about lack of good public education. When you say “ought” you imply that if the church does not tackle these problems we are being disobedient. It would be better to invite individual Christians in keeping with their gifts and calling to try to solve these problems rather than indicting the church for “not caring.”
(3) I am concerned that in all our passion for renewing the city or tackling social problems we run the risk of marginalizing the one thing that makes Christian mission Christian: namely, making disciples of Jesus Christ.
Now, having raised those concerns, I need to make sure you know what I am not saying. I do not want:
- Christians to be indifferent toward the suffering around them and around the world.
- Christians to think evangelism is the only thing in life that really counts or that helping the poor really only matters if it results in conversions.
- Christians to stop dreaming of creative, courageous ways to love their neighbors and impact their cities.
But here’s some of what I do want:
- I want the gospel—the good news of Christ’s death for sin and subsequent resurrection—to be of first importance in our churches.
- I want Christians freed from false guilt, freed from thinking the church is either responsible for most of problems in the world or responsible to fix all of these problems.
I want the utterly unique task of the church—making disciples of Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit to the glory of God the Father—put front and center, not lost in a flurry of humanitarian good deeds or environmental concerns.”
Preach it brother.