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The Social Justice Gospel

Over the last several years, Youthfront has made a substantial effort to encourage young people to include cooperation with God’s mission in the world as a significant part of their Christian formation.  We believe that working to bring restoration and redemption – often labeled “social justice” – is an integral part of bringing about God’s will on earth as it is in heaven.

Occasionally, though, we hear the label of “social justice” attached to our organization as a criticism.  It stings the most when it comes from friends or former staff, Youthfront alumni who seem concerned that our emphasis on doing works of mercy and justice are somehow a replacement for propositional evangelism.

Admittedly, we no longer train young people to engage in evangelism that starts with the fall of humanity into sin.  We tell a story that starts with God creating human beings in the image of God — good news indeed! True, the story goes on to include the sinful fall of human beings.  We are all broken and in need of the work of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, who brings redemption and ultimately the restoration of all things.  We who know Christ are called to cooperate with God’s movement to bring about the restoration of all things: restoration to our broken relationship with God, with ourselves, with others, and with the entire cosmos.

At Youthfront we are embracing a more robust understanding of Gospel and the life of Jesus Christ.  We believe that Jesus didn’t come just to get us into heaven when we die.  Instead we are called to pick up our cross (not a democrat cross or a republican cross, and certainly not a rich cross or an American cross) and follow Jesus, bearing witness to the good news, to love mercy, do justice and walk humbly with our God. This gospel is one that young people are willing to give their lives to, and YES, they are engaged in evangelism.

The BARNA Group has recently released data that indicates that young people are engaging in large amounts of evangelism.  “Millennials are the only generation among whom evangelism is significantly on the rise.

Specific to this new generation, the article goes on to say: “They’ve been called ‘the social justice generation,’ and for good reason—Millennials are actively taking up the cause of the poor, the oppressed, the orphan and the widow. Yet the most common critique leveled at this surge in social compassion is that it comes at a great expense. Sure, skeptics argue, they might feed the hungry and free the captives in this life, but what about the next? According to this view, Millennials are elevating physical needs over spiritual needs and forgoing evangelism altogether. Yet the latest Barna research reveals this is not the case. In fact, in answer to the question of evangelism on the rise or in decline, Millennials are a rare case indeed. While the evangelistic practices of all other generations have either declined or remained static in the past few years, Millennials are the only generation among whom evangelism is significantly on the rise. Their faith-sharing practices have escalated from 56% in 2010 to 65% in 2013. Not only that, but born again Millennials share their faith more than any other generation today. Nearly two-thirds (65%) have presented the Gospel to another within the past year, in contrast to the national average of about half (52%) of born again Christians.”


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