I have argued for several years now that the greatest need for our churches today is the recovery of the gospel. Some people have concluded that what I mean by that is everyone embracing the doctrines of grace; however, a casual observer of my blog could able to discern that is not the case. What I mean is understanding the functional centrality of the gospel and its sufficiency in every aspect of the church.
I have become more and more aware of this need when I talk to, for instance, seminary-trained Christian counselors who have never heard or been trained in how to apply the gospel to situations in life involving believers and conflict of any sort or a leadership style that reflects more of corporate one-upmanship rather than the gospel style of decreasing to serve others. I have grown up in the county-seat First Baptist Church and heard how the gospel of Matthew was a how-to manual to overcome stress, worry, fear, and so on and also been in the seeker-sensitive megachurch where the stories are gripping but the gospel missing. I have been in the smaller, more rural church where the preacher is excited and earnest as in the tradition of revivalism but the gospel is reduced to a few points and a prayer. Reflecting and experiencing these realities have served to increase the burden in my heart for the gospel to be preached, lived, and result in truly transformed lives.
Recent conversations with believers both offline and online have provoked a desire to foster gospel centrality in the local church by providing opportunities for folks to engage, learn, and dialogue with others. To a large degree, I believe that the systemic problem of gospel absence in our churches has not been intentional (though that case could be made in some liberal churches). Rather, it is not understanding the full scope, the power, the breadth and the depth of the gospel and how God uses it not only to convert sinners but transform them “from one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor. 3:18).
Below is a sketch I drew up yesterday of what I am calling a “Gospel Workshop”–a mini-conference addressing the centrality and sufficiency of the gospel for church life. I’d like to get your thoughts on this, and in particular if you think pastors or church leaders would be interested in something of this nature.
1. What is the Gospel?; Theological Vision of Gospel Centrality in the Local Church; Philosophy of Ministry (DNA of Gospel-Centered Church)
2. Gospel-Centered Preaching
3. Gospel-Shaped Worship
4. Gospel-Driven Living
5. Gospel-Saturated Community
1. The Gospel and Evangelism/Mission
2. The Gospel and Leadership
3. The Gospel and Spiritual Disciplines (esp. prayer)
4. The Gospel and Counseling/Conflict
5. The Gospel and the Marriage/Family
6. The Gospel and Cultural Engagement/Social Action
If I were to break it down into a schedule, it could look something like this:
7PM Main Session 1: Theological Vision/Philosophy of Ministry
9AM Breakout Session 1
1030AM Main Session 2: Preaching
2PM Breakout Session 2
330PM Main Session 3: Worship
8PM Main Session 4: Community
9AM Breakout Session 3
1030AM Main Session 5: Living