Jon Kuhrt writes: A continual challenge in Christian community work and social action is the connection between the practical work being done to the actual message itself. People can pour into church buildings for toddler groups, foodbanks, lunch clubs, youth clubs and night shelters. But often these social action programmes become detached and disconnected from the message which inspired the work in the first place.
Fruit and roots
How does this work connect to the church’s core message? How can the fruit of social action remain connected to the roots from which it has grown? These questions are important. If not addressed they create tensions which turn easily into strife and conflict between churches and the projects they have started. Its a reality I have seen many, many times.
There is often a tangible lack of confidence and ambition to make connections and to integrate the message alongside the action. Some people use woolly theology to justify this dis-integration, sometimes trotting out the line attributed to St Francis:
‘Preach the gospel at all times, use words if necessary’.
But as Justin Welby succinctly put it:
‘Francis almost certainly never said it. And if he did, he was wrong’.
I agree with Welby. Our failure to communicate what we believe is nothing to celebrate. The gospel is good news. It is a message about God’s grace and truth: what He has done and what he continues to do.