What is so significant about Newbigin (for me now) is his ecclesiological center. To separate such grand observations of social action from Newbigin’s ecclesiology is to read him wrongly; furthermore, to detach his view of social action from church, God's alternative social group in contrast to the rest of the world, is to miss his point entirely. This is where I am at now in my own journey: that the church (and I prefer you reading, a church) is an alternative to the social and cultural groups and associations known and experienced in the world, the locus of mission; and, as such, we should understand that biblical social action is a component of its evangelism (the very argument of my book). Thus, biblical social action is an element of the church’s nature, not an add-on or a hopeful by-product of some of the individuals who can do social action or make systemic changes from their place in society and/or their vocation getting saved, or as an “optional extra” as Newbigin puts it.
Many Christian social justice leaders and activists separate social action from the life of church (a church, again) as if it is merely a church-state confrontation or a public sphere activity of Christians and Church-like groups. Most conservative-leaning Christians see social action as a by-product of salvation, but still a distraction from the church’s real center, “eternal salvation.” Both misunderstand Jesus. Both misread the gospel. Both err toward what they want to protect theologically or promote politically. The former has a thin view of church. The latter has a thin view of the gospel. Newbigin affirms my own view of Wasted Evangelism and helps me to place it where social justice belongs: church (and again, please read here, a local-gathered-church).
“Jesus challenged the powers that ruled the world by deeds of justice and mercy. These were not marginal but central to his ministry. Therefore, since the church’s mission is in Christ’s way, ‘it is clear that action for justice and peace in the world is not something which is secondary, marginal to the central task of evangelism. It belongs to the heart of the matter” (Michael W. Goheen, The Church and Its Vocation: Lesslie Newbigin’s Missionary Ecclesiology, p. 87).