Brian Yeager's Outlines
Does the Bible Approve of the "Social Gospel"


Defining the terms as meant in this lesson:

Social - "of or relating to human society , the interaction of the individual and the group, or the welfare of human beings as members of society <social institutions>"

Gospel - "word of God, message, good news, teachings"

Examples of "social Gospel" would be using facilities, money, etc. to entertain a group or individual with the hope of bringing them to the Gospel. Social halls, gymnasiums, plays or concerts, friends days, etc. Anything that would make the goal to "make them comfortable, make them happy, etc. opposed to teach them the truth and that only being the means of evangelism).

An Example of "the Social Gospel":

Willow Creek Community Church began in 1975 with several apostate members of the Lord's church as an "independent Christian church." They began to meet in a rented theater in the western suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. In 1995, they had mushroomed into a congregation of 21, 000 members. Since Willow Creek is viewed by many as the progenitor of the Community Church Movement, what were the circumstances of their beginning success and what methods did they use?

The plea and methods of Willow Creek, the example church today for many. The members of Willow

Creek went into the surrounding neighborhoods and asked people, "Why do you not attend church?" The

response they received was fivefold: "(1) Churches are always asking for money, (2) church services

were boring and lifeless, (3) church services were predictable, (4) sermons were irrelevant to daily life in

the real world, (5) and the preacher made people feel guilty or ignorant, so they leave church feeling

worse than when they entered the doors." "A new kind of church! If hard pews, boring sermons and rusty hymns have zapped your interest in church, then you've been waiting (your church's name supplied). You'll find electric music, sizzling drama, powerful messages and high-voltage programs for everyone. A new kind of church - shocking, isn't it?"

"Its party time! Join us at North Park Church…., we are hosting a free BBQ and community carnival and, for the

adults, a special concert. We'll close the day with a short celebration service featuring a message from an NFL Pro

linebacker and a special puppet show for the kids. Please join us for this fun and exciting day…."

Another Example: "Sunday is 'Bring a Friend Day'. We will have a potluck followed with good fellowship." - via a "church of Christ" Bulletin. Fellowship (in the proper setting) amongst Christians is not condemned but entertainment in place of teaching is!

I. The approved method of evangelism

A. Preaching the Gospel Mark 16:15 "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." 1. Woe is unto us if we preach not the Gospel I Corinthians 9:16 "For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!"

2. The Social Gospel is no where in the Bible. Therefore, it is another Gospel. What Does God say of that? Galatians 1:8-9 "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."

3. Notice Romans 10:8 (does it say anywhere in this verse we practice and teach a "Social Gospel?) "But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach."

a. A well known liberal (Al Maxey) uses this argument to justify such measures. "Christ in his ministry on this earth had meals (fellowship) with sinners. He does this to show us that we too should invite the world to participate in our fellowship meals in efforts to show them what Christians really are. For example Jesus Christ; Luke 5:30-32." Those passages quoted are: "But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners? And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."
    • My response to Al Maxey's argument was/is this: "Al, you have failed to produce the whole context of the matter. Notice the whole context Luke 5:27-32. Our Lord was invited to dinner. He accepted the invitation from one whom just became a disciple, Levi - which is Matthew (Matthew 10:3). Where was the feast made? In Levi's own house Luke 5:29. Christ explains as he is to bring sinners to repentance. This would be the same as Christians being a light to the world (Matthew 5:14-16). Do note, Christ did not invite sinners into His house except to be saved."
B. The church in the first century grew by means of preaching God's word Acts 5:42, Acts 6:7, Acts 10:42, Acts 12:24, and Acts 19:20.

C. The word (not activities) brings salvation I Peter 1:23 "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever."

D. The word is to be preached II Timothy 4:2-5 "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry."

E. It is the word that must be received (not cake and ice cream or balloons and dart games) I Thessalonians 2:13 "For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe."

II. If it eventually brings a person to Christ, how can it be wrong? A. Use that argument like this. "If we pay a person to attend church is that wrong"? "If we have bingo and forsake the worship as outlined in the Bible is that wrong?"  1. If the Bible does not give an example as it does our worship (Acts 20:7, I Corinthians 16:1-2, Acts 2:42, and Ephesians 5:19) . If it does not give a command as the Bible commands baptism (Acts 10:47-48). Or, if the Bible does not infer as it does in the conversion of the Eunuch. The conversion of Eunuch no where states that he was added to the church (Acts 8:35-39), yet we know that a direct effect of baptism is being added to the church (I Corinthians 12:12-13). Therefore, we can infer that the Eunuch was added to the church the same as those on Pentecost (Acts 2:47). But, we could not infer that Philip first played a game of cards with the Eunuch and then later got around to teaching him. The Bible no where implies or states this to be a fact.  a. If no example, command, or inference then it is addition. What does God say about that? Revelation 22:18-19 "18. For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: 19. And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book." B. It is a matter of authority. Can we do things God has not stated? Colossians 3:17 "And whatsoever [anything or everything] ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him."

C. If it is not of God, it is of man. Thus, it would not be the Gospel Galatians 1:10-12 "10. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. 11. But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 12. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ."

III. A biblical rebuke for practicing "Social worship" opposed to true worship A. The church at Corinth was coming together incorrectly for the Lord's Supper. I Corinthians 11:18-34

B. The choice is ours, be followers of Christ or men. I have my preference just as did Peter Acts 5:29 "Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men."


If you get them to the church by entertainment and the Social Gospel movement, you will have to keep that up. That is a far cry from what Jesus called worship John 4:24! The "Social Gospel" movement is a slap in our Lord's face.

Copyright 2001 by Brian Yeager may be reproducted for non-commercial purposes at no cost to others.