When it comes to need-based evangelism, we have two extremes.
Meeting Physical Needs Only
On the one side, we have the people who focus only on meeting people’s physical needs. These are the social-gospel churches, which focus on need-based evangelism. They say things like, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” or “An empty stomach has no ears.” I would not argue with these proverbs, as they are true. But I would add a proverb of my own: “Don’t let busy hands tie your tongue.” Sometimes these churches get so busy loving and helping people that they never get around to telling others the truth about God, sin, Jesus Christ, and eternal life.
Meeting Spiritual Needs Only
The other church extreme criticizes such efforts as a waste of time and resources. What good is it, they ask, for people to go to hell with nice clothes and a full stomach? They argue that a person’s eternal destiny is more important than any earthly comfort. These churches say things like, “It’s our job to preach; it’s God’s job to save” and “People are destroyed from lack of knowledge, not from lack of food” (alluding from Hosea 4:6). There is truth in these sayings as well.
The Balance of the Gospel
But both sides, with their proverbs and passionate appeals, have missed the overarching message of the gospel, that it is good news for both the body and the spirit. For both temporal and eternal life. The gospel is not just about life here and now, nor is it about life in the hereafter. It is about both. The gospel is the full-orbed message about the claims of Jesus on both our present and eternal life. To focus on one life or the other is a serious mistake.