The church is not just for the people in the church. This may seem obvious but it is an important notion to articulate. We do not exist solely to perpetuate our continual existence.
As well, the mission of the church, the Good News of Jesus Christ does not mean that we must choose between evangelism and social justice. Jesus never distinguishes between his preaching, teaching, and healing. The Good News of Jesus Christ is eternal life AND the Good News of Jesus Christ is that we can live into the Kingdom of God now. Right now. A myriad of scriptures, from James to Matthew to Isaiah, point to this reality. As Methodists, the Social Creed help us to remember our holistic duty in following Jesus towards all people, whether they are going to convert or not.
God is the one who transforms hearts. At our best, we are vessels of God's action in this world. We are the manos y pies, the hands and feet of Christ. The UMC Social Creed commits us to the rights of all individuals.
"We commit ourselves to the rights of men, women, children, youth, young adults, the aging, and people with disabilities; to improvement of the quality of life; and to the rights and dignity of all persons."
In this, the church commits to being an intergenerational body. We cannot be satisfied if our sanctuaries are only filled with the young or the not-so-young. And we cannot turn a blind eye to the consequences of our actions, as individuals or as a church, for the rights of others. The dignity of every person is based on the theological concept of the imago dei, the image of God. Each person is created in God's image and his of intrinsic value and sacred worth.
Rights language itself is rather modern and connected more to the nation-state than the Church, yet the idea is as old as Torah. Are we a church committed to the rights of all people? Are we a church that interrogates the consequences of our actions on others? Are we a church that works towards the improvement of the lives of all people? No person, no matter where they are from or what they do, is worth more than another. We are all God's children. Thanks be to God.