Recovering the Gospel and Rethinking Evangelism in my Context
How am I trying to work all of this out in my ministry context? Well, as a church planter in a rapidly growing suburb of a creative-class city in the hole of the bible belt (that’s a mouthful, I know), my church is working to multiply a family of churches across greater Austin. Our mission is to proclaim the whole gospel, for the whole of life, to the whole city. For us, gospel-centered discipleship is critical.
I believe that when we learn to see the gospel in “3D,” it ought also to change the way we view the church. In other words, there is a correlation in our lives between how big/important the gospel is to how big/important the church is. For example: Let’s say we only view the gospel as one-dimensional in our lives; it is only personal good news, then the church is simply a place I go to worship. The church is about me and helping me grow in my personal relationship with God. But as we’ve seen, the gospel is more, and therefore the church is more. See the chart below.
The Three Dimensions of the Gospel & Its Implications for the Church
Our identity and activity as the church flows from the gospel. We are a people who devote our lives to worship, discipleship in community, and missional living all because of what God has done in the world through Jesus; and what he is continuing to do in the world by the power of the Spirit through us until the day Jesus comes again.
The more fully we come to understand the reconciling work of Jesus in our lives, the more fully we will come to understand the beauty and significance of the local church. In other words, a whole gospel promotes strong conversions, which leads to deeper discipleship, producing healthy churches that live on gospel mission. The inverse is also true; if our lives aren’t fully immersed in the good news of Jesus and the company of his people (the local church), they will inevitably be immersed in a lesser message of our culture. We will become “disciples” of the American dream, of suburban culture, of a political party, or of whatever story we allow to dominate our lives.
This is why we are working so hard to plant churches that are discipling people in the whole gospel. The church isn’t primarily a building, religious non-profit, or worship service; it is a people who have been reconciled to God, to one another, and who are joining God in the reconciliation of all things. Our churches articulate who we are this way: We are a diverse, gospel-centered family learning and living the way of Jesus for the glory of God and the good of neighbor. By his grace, the gospel is bearing fruit among us (discipleship) and through us in our city (conversions and multiplication).