Building a Biblical Foundation for Evangelism among Justice-Oriented Gen Z
Keywords:Short-Term Mission, GenZ, Social Justice, Proclamation, Evangelism
Many Generation Z mission team members are asking: “When did it become unacceptable for evangelicals to seek justice?” Meanwhile, many ministry leaders are asking: “When did it become objectionable to verbally proclaim the gospel?” A false dichotomy often emerges between evangelism and social justice in mission circles (especially white, Western circles) that is further accentuated by today’s generational differences.
How can mission leaders help Christian emerging adults gain a biblically-integrated response to human need that fully reflects God’s nature and mission? How can we prepare them for short-term mission outreach among whole persons who experience deep spiritual concerns along with physical and social hardship? This article discusses Gen Z traits, advice for leaders, and ideas for teaching Scripture’s evangelism mandate among Gen Z with passages that integrate word and deed and link to the Bible’s grand narrative.
Others have written at length on the evangelical debate concerning the relationship between evangelism and social justice (see Ott et al. 2010, 137-161). For our purposes here, it’s helpful to remember that those who place priority on evangelism and those who advocate for holistic/integral mission often agree that evangelism and social action are more effective when joined together as a sign of God’s multidimensional kingdom. Indeed, when Jesus described the greatest commandments (Matt. 22:34-40; Mark 12:28-34; Luke 10:25-28), he emphasized the significance of both the gospel and creation mandates of redemption, both the vertical and horizontal realms.