It has been my conviction ever since reading Rauschenbusch that any religion that professes concern for the souls of men and is not equally concerned about the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them, and the social conditions that cripple them is a spiritually moribund religion only waiting for the day to be buried. It well has been said: "A religion that ends with the individual, ends."
I feel that preaching is one of the most vital needs of our society, if it is used correctly. There is a great paradox in preaching: on the one it may be very helpful and on the other it may be very pernicious. It is my opinion that sincerity is not enough for the preaching ministry. The minister must be both sincere and intelligent...I also think that the minister should possess profundity of conviction. We have too many ministers in the pulpit who are great spellbinders and too few possess spiritual power. It is my profound conviction that I, as an aspirant for the ministry, should possess those powers.
I think that preaching should grow out of the experiences of the people. Therefore, I, as a minister, must know the problems of the people that I am pastoring. Too often do educated ministers leave the people lost in the fog of theological abstraction, rather than presenting that theology in the light of the people's experiences. It is my conviction that the minister must somehow take profound theological and philosophical views and place them in a concrete framework. I must forever make the complex the simple.
Above all, I see the preaching ministry as a dual process. On the one hand I must attempt to change the soul of individuals so that their societies may be changed. On the other I must attempt to change the societies so that the individual soul will have a change. Therefore, I must be concerned about unemployment, slums, and economic insecurity. I am a profound advocate of the social gospel.
-Carson, Clayborne, ed. The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. New York: Warner Books, 1998. 18-19.
For a little more on Rauschenbusch and the Social Gospel see: http://ebaadenews.blogspot.com/2010/01/for-role-of-church-concerned-him-deeply.html