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Good Words, Good Deeds

“I have to admit that my own view of evangelism was about saving as many people from hell as possible—for the next life.  It minimized my concern for those same people in this life.  It wasn’t as important that they were poor or hungry or persecuted, or perhaps rich, greedy and arrogant; we just had to get them to pray the ‘sinners prayer’ and then move on to the next potential convert.”-Richard Stearns, The Hole in Our Gospel

Historically Campus Crusade has focused exclusively on the good words of the gospel, while leaving the good deeds to others.  A movement in the church at large, and in particular among this generation of students, has helped us to see there is value in embracing a more holistic approach. We should learn to incorporate both Good Words and Good Deeds into our normal ministry activities.

Some have expressed the fear that in embracing Good Deeds, we may find ourselves losing our focus on sharing the Good Words.  Others worry that doing Good Deeds merely as a means to the end of Good Words is a bait-and-switch technique unworthy of ministers of the gospel.

Both objections are answered when we understand that sharing Christ is always our ultimate motive, but never our ulterior motive.  Indeed love compels us to meet basic immediate needs, but it forbids us from stopping there.  We must love the whole person, body and soul.

Being persuaded from our reading and interviews of the value of adding good deeds to our normal ministry activity, consider these three main lessons:

• Compassionate acts are tangible ways to serve those we are called to love.
The world is dying.  Every day we see and hear about the ravaging effects of sin in the world. The brokenness takes a thousand forms: poverty, pornography, the sex trade, starvation, illiteracy, oppression.  We are the salt and light to bring solutions to a broken world that God loves.

• Compassionate acts serve as a corrective for the negative perception many non-Christians have of Christians.
As described in our report “Unbelievers,” Christianity has an image problem.  Radical acts of generosity and love can help reverse this. “Through witnessing these selfless demonstrations of love and helpful acts of service, observers believed that the church just might have something worth listening to.” Rick Rusaw and Eric Swanson in The Externally Focused Church

• Compassionate acts create opportunities to communicate the gospel message to those we serve and serve alongside.
“It takes between 12 and 20 positive bumps [refreshing encounters with the church] before people come to Christ. Our presence in the public square through service gives us opportunities to provide these refreshing encounters.” Dave Workman, Vineyard Community Church

For more details on the lessons learned from reading books about combining Good Words with Good Deeds, please see the full report, “Good Words, Good Deeds.”

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