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Cultural Relevance, Mercy Ministry and the Social Gospel

The Christ the Center panelists converse with the Rev. Richard Phillips, Senior Minister at 2nd Presbyterian Church of Greenville, SC about the importance of a Reformed approach to evangelism and mercy ministry. The tendency can be to remain inside the four walls of the church when the church has been called to proclaim the gospel to a dying world. Phillips points out that it is possible to be solidly Reformed and also committed to getting the message of the gospel out into the highways and byways of our various communities. Rev. Phillips draws upon his own pastoral experience and one of his most recent publications, Jesus the Evangelist. While believers are called upon to give a reason for the hope that is in them as they are given opportunity (1st Pet. 3:15), the primary means of evangelism is the proclamation of the Bible from the pulpit in public worship.

The panel also discussed the rightful place of mercy ministry and cultural engagement. It is important that the church take care of its own, but there is also a place for demonstrating mercy to those outside the church. However, there is always the danger that demonstrating God’s love in deeds of mercy will eclipse the clear, forthright declaration of the gospel. The church must never forget its mission or identity by compromising or conforming to the culture of this world. The social gospel and inadequate methods of cultural engagement have confused and in some cases lost the truth of the gospel.

The Christ the Center panelists along with Rev. Phillips conclude that with evangelism and mercy ministry, all must be done to bring glory and honor to the Triune God of Scripture (1st Cor. 10:31). In other words, the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing!


  • Rick Phillips
  • Nick Batzig
  • James Dolezal
  • Jim Cassidy
  • Jeff Waddington
  • Camden Bucey



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Christ the Center focuses on Reformed Christian theology. In each episode a group of informed panelists discusses important issues in order to encourage critical thinking and a better understanding of Reformed doctrine with a view toward godly living. Browse more episodes from this program or subscribe to the podcast feed.


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