Thursday, March 22   Sign in or Register
Evangelical Focus
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud

Newsletter, sign up to receive all our News by email.

Is the sexual exploitation of women an issue in your city?




Is it wrong to share the gospel with people I am serving?

Hundreds of churches and Christian organisations across Europe work to help marginalised people in their cities. Juan Simarro (Madrid) and Sarah Bennetch (Rome) speak from their experience. 

AUTHOR Joel Forster , Evangelical Focus ROME 17 NOVEMBER 2015 17:52 h GMT+1
cup, tea, coffe, table, hq, image, photo A cup of coffee and a conversation about the gospel? / Mikesh Kaos (Unsplash, CC)

Many Christian organisations have been assisting refugees arriving to European countries these months. And hundreds of cities benefit from the decades-long work of evangelical churches and Christians NGOs serving people in need.

But, is it right to connect social action and evangelism? Should Christians refrain from talking about Jesus when they serve those in material need?

There have been both secular and Christian voices showing disapproval for Christian initiatives that aim to respond to humanitarian needs while actively sharing the gospel.

We have brought this questions to Juan Simarro, director of Misión Urbana (Urban Mission) in Madrid (Spain); and Sarah Bennetch, who works with local and national anti-trafficking movements and is City Team Leader of ReachGlobal, in Rome (Italy).



“Over the years, I have encountered among Western Christians the unfortunate disconnection between social action and evangelism”, explains Bennetch.


Sarah Bennetch,

“Previously, there was a tendency to discount social action or justice work, whereas nowadays there’s been a definite shift towards neglecting Gospel proclamation in favor of good deeds alone”, she says after 25 years working in Europe.

“To me this dichotomy is erroneous ether way and creates tension within the Body of Christ, and we have opportunities to bring ‘word and deed’ ministry back into balance.”



Simarro leads one of the pioneering social justice organisations in Spain and has also seen different approaches among Christians in more than 30 years of work.

“Of course there is the right to have a different opinion and say that social action is enough and that there is no need for words. But we do not understand why one would not share some gospel words with someone… words that not only could give relief, but a real meaning to life”.

“Of course, we believe that social action has an intrinsic value, but Jesus added to his healing actions words that announced salvation.”

In Misión Urbana, explains Simarro, an “integral Christian spirituality” is promoted amongst the volunteers. This naturally leads to share a “restoring message” with those who come in contact with the organisation members serving in Madrid and other Spanish cities.

Nobody is theologically neutral when they work for social justice. This is a primary biblical priority. The gospel message needs to be connected to social denounce, as the prophets and Jesus did.”



Is any form of evangelism right, when working with vulnerable people? “For sure, evangelical organisations should never give their help only if the recipients are ready to listen to their beliefs”, Simarro says.


Juan Simarro.

“And it is true that some evangelical organisations emphasise evangelism as the only solution to social needs, and this is not understood in a secular society like ours.”

The best context to speak about faith are personal relationships, according to Simarro. “In my office at Misión Urbana, I have always been open to speak about our values and the biblical values in general… In a gentle and didactic way, not trying to impose my beliefs.”

“Beside that, our methods and lines of integration need to be professional, of course. In our experience, the conjunction of both gives undeniable results in the process of rehabilitation of a person.”

“Although evangelism and social action as distinct activities, they are inseparable!” adds Bennetch. “Scripture lays out for us a Kingdom standard of engaging in both preaching the Gospel and doing justice, in the power of the Holy Spirit. Our primary call is to proclaim Good News to the captives; to tell them about salvation through Jesus Christ.”

She quotes the Cape Town Commitment (propelled by the Lausanne Movement, which unites millions of evangelicals in the world): “Integral mission is the proclamation and demonstration of the gospel”.

Bennetch shares the vision of ReachGlobal, for instance. Their organisation “includes ministries of compassion and justice in addition to those of evangelism and church planting.” The goal is to “align all ministries into a vision for multiplying transformational churches among all peoples”.

Personally, Bennetch sees her anti-trafficking work in Rome as “an expression of our heart for the Body of Christ.”



More visible or not, “the evangelistic values will always be there”, thinks Simarro. And these “kingdom values help and impact the users we are serving.”

“Evangelicals need to create a social fabric of people who identify themselves as evangelicals. It is part of our witnessing. Christian values are the most solid foundation on which an NGO can build its vision to help their neighbours.”

The key is to follow the example of Jesus, Simarro thinks “his love for the people and how he took interest in people’s lives”. A type of evangelism that “does not put pressure on people.”, but offers “friendship, life, bread and the Word.”



And what about the churches? What do most Christians think about social justice initiatives?

Simarro is positive about what he has seen so far. “I think the churches and Christians in Madrid have understood and value our mission and our way to share the gospel through friendship with the people we serve.”

Bennetch has the impression that “most churches in our local network, being conservative, favor the proclamation of the Gospel. That is laudable! However, there is perhaps reticence or uneasiness about social action”, shares Bennetch. Some even have said “justice work is distracting from ‘real’ mission work.”

But there have been churches on the other side, concludes Bennetch: “A consortium of clergy offered funding to our anti-trafficking charity as long as the money wasn’t used for evangelism. We declined.”

What are your thoughts? Should Christian churches and projects speak about the gospel to the people they serve?




    If you want to comment, or


YOUR ARE AT: - - Is it wrong to share the gospel with people I am serving?
Michael Schluter: Relationships are the key to build Europe Michael Schluter: Relationships are the key to build Europe

The economist summarises the manifesto “Confederal Europe: Strong Nations, Strong Union” and explains why personal relationships should be at the centre of our economy, education and democracy. 

Gary Wilkerson: The Bible, the Holy Spirit and the Reformation Gary Wilkerson: The Bible, the Holy Spirit and the Reformation

Pastor Gary Wilkerson talks about what all evangelical Christians can learn from the Protestant Reformation and underlines the need for more churches with both a sound doctrine and obedience to the Holy Spirit.

Lindsay Brown: Islam and the Gospel in Europe Lindsay Brown: Islam and the Gospel in Europe

Is the arrival of thousands of Muslims to Europe a threat to Christianity? What is the growth of evangelical churches in Eastern and Southern Europe? An interview with theologian and Lausanne Movement representative Lindsay Brown.

Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues

The World Evangelical Alliance Secretary General participated in the Italian Evangelical Alliance assembly (Rome, 8-9 April). In this interview with Evangelical Focus, Bp Tendero talks about the need to listen to local churches and to face challenges like the refugee crisis and climate change. 

Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum

Pritchard explains the vision of ELF, comments on the 2015 event in Poland and reflects on what it means to have an "evangelical identity".

Evi Rodemann: Youth and mission Evi Rodemann: Youth and mission

“We want to see the youth not just being equipped, but also being multipliers”, Evi Rodemann director of Mission-Net. The European Congress took place in Germany from December 28 to January 2.

Coexistence in the church - a model for society Coexistence in the church - a model for society

“Gospel, identity and coexistence” were the themes of the General Assembly of the Spanish Evangelical Alliance. Two days in Palma de Mallorca to reflect about the role of evangelical churches in society.

'Ungi kulimi changana' 'Ungi kulimi changana'

Educator and journalist Jordi Torrents shares images of the Sekeleka social centre in Mozambique. About 50 children live there, many with some kind of disability. All photos were taken with permission.

The President in an evangelical church on Christmas Eve The President in an evangelical church on Christmas Eve

For the first time, the President of Portugal attended a worship service in an evangelical church. It was in Sintra, on Christmas Eve.

Lausanne younger leaders gathering in Budapest Lausanne younger leaders gathering in Budapest

About 70 people from European countries met at the Younger Leaders Gen gathering in Hungary (19-22 October) to discuss the challenges of the church in the continent and build partnerships. Photos: Evi Rodemann and Jari Sippola.

I am not on sale I am not on sale

Young Christians gathered at Madrid’s central square Sol to denounce human trafficking. A flashmob highlighted the work of three evangelical NGOs which support women who escape sexual slavery in Spain.

Stamps to commemorate the Reformation Stamps to commemorate the Reformation

Poland, Lithuania, Namibia and Brazil are some of the countries that have issued special stamps on the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 theses.

A marriage story A marriage story

The  great love story for everyone.

Be safe on social media Be safe on social media

A video about the way traffickers target teenage girls online, produced by anti-slavery gorup Abolishion.

In Mission In Mission

A 360º lyric video about how all followers of Jesus Christ are called to serve God. Duo in Spanish (Alex Sampedro) and Portuguese (Marcos Martins).

Heart Heart

A short animation film by Swiss cartoonist Alain Auderset tells the message of the Bible in four minutes.

Creation Care and the Gospel, in France Creation Care and the Gospel, in France

The conference drew about 90 delegates from across Europe. Scientists, theologians, activists reflected together on the theme “God’s Word and God’s World”.

Philip Yancey interview Philip Yancey interview

An 8-minute interview with Philip Yancey on the role of Christians in a secularised society. Recorded in Madrid, September 2016.

An interview with Prof. John Lennox An interview with Prof. John Lennox

New atheism, the definition of "faith", Christianity in Europe, the role of the Bible in mission, and the need to listen more. An exclusive interview recorded at "Forum Apologética" (Tarragona, Spain) in May 2016.

Follow us on Soundcloud
Follow us on YouTube

EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.