I just came across this quote, and thought it was pretty relevant to the current discussion on the mission of the church.
Now the problem with the world today is we’ve never really seen where the problem is. And the heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart, which is desperately wicked. But I wouldn’t expect anyone to stand up in Congress and say, “Gentlemen, the problem is sin.” Would you expect that? Or would you expect someone to stand up in one of our great universities—a PhD—and say, “Sirs, I have finally found the problem with mankind. It’s sin”? Of course not! Would you expect anybody to come running out of the laboratory with a test tube and saying, “Eureka! I’ve found it! The problem is sin”? Do you think the Security Council of the U.N. is going to stand up and say, “The problem in the world and the problem between nations is sin”? No, they’re not going to say that, and that’s the reason they’re never going to solve the problem. You see, they never do get a proper diagnosis; so how on earth are they ever going to get a proper remedy? They can’t do it. And so all of these agencies and all of these people they’re spending time sweeping down cobwebs rather than killing the spider, which is sin.
And we’re just dealing with the effects. For example, we have a war on poverty. Well, we don’t need a war on poverty nearly as badly as we need a war on sin. Now I’m not saying poverty is a good thing, but dear friend, poverty is even rooted in sin: the greed, and the grasping, and the carelessness, and the hatefulness, and the waste, and the strife, and the wantonness, that has turned this world into a garden of weeds and a swamp where the mosquitoes of hate are breeding by the millions. The costliest thing around is sin. Don’t you forget it. And I tell you, if we’d just have a war on sin, we’d do something about the poverty problem and every other problem. But you see, nobody wants to admit what the problem is, so no wonder we are never coming to the solution.
From the sermon, “The Victory of Faith,” by Adrian Rogers