We continue with our sermon series entitled ‘The Church Growth Toolkit’. Preaching from Nathan Gordon.
This morning as we partake of the elements of communion we are reminded of the central tool of Christianity and the church – The Gospel! The death, burial, resurrection, ascension and promised return of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul challenged the church in Rome to remain unashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile. (Rom 1:16)
A compromised Gospel?
Unfortunately, we are living amongst a generation where churches may choose to water down the authentic message of the Gospel to appease or risk causing an offence. Some churches or groups may even experience numerical growth without teaching the true biblical message of the Gospel, however, such approaches would lead people astray unless there is a realisation of the full gospel.
Please see the below excerpt from an interesting article by Tony Merida.
Before discussing the benefits of gospel-centrality, it’s important to understand how it differs from other approaches:
Gospel-Denying Churches – These shouldn’t be called churches. Various cults and extreme brands of liberalism would fit this category. They deny the essential truths of the gospel.
Gospel-Redefining Churches – Related to the previous category, these add to or subtract from the gospel. Examples include the prosperity gospel and the social gospel.
Gospel-Assuming Churches – These churches say they believe the gospel, but they rarely preach it plainly and deeply. It’s “Christianity-lite.” Leadership talks, therapeutic sermons, and practical-improvement messages fill the air.
Gospel-Affirming Churches – Like the previous group, these churches believe the gospel doctrinally, but the gospel is only meant for evangelism, and it is segmented out of the life of the church.
Gospel-Proclaiming Churches – These churches are known for preaching the gospel every week in corporate worship. But the gospel is still viewed as simply evangelistic. The gospel tips people into the kingdom, but it isn’t taught as that which also shapes and empowers Christian living. Often what is communicated to believers is some form of post-conversion moralism.
Gospel-Centered Churches – These churches preach the gospel every week explicitly—but not just to the unbeliever. They also preach and apply the gospel to Christians, as Paul did for the Romans (Rom. 1:15). It shapes and empowers Christian ethics and the life of the Christian community.
For example, marriage is taught by looking at Christ’s love for the church (Eph. 5:25); generosity is viewed through the lens of Christ’s generosity (2 Cor. 8:9); the call to forgive is rooted in Christ’s forgiveness of us (Col. 3:13); hospitality reflects the welcome of Christ (Rom. 15:7). Calls to social action—like caring for the orphan, the widow, the refugee, and the poor—are also made to believers with reference to their own identity in Christ.
The Gospel is our best tool because
- The Gospel tool is transformational – 1 Cor 2:4-5, Rom 1:16
- The Christians in Corinth were convicted in their hearts to follow Christ despite living in a morally corrupt and philosophical age.
- The Gospel can transform the darkness of a community into the marvellous light of Christ
- There are various contrary spirits and practices in our community and world, however, the Gospel can break those chains and set people free. (John 8:36)
- The Gospel tool is spiritually deployed – 1 Cor 2:13-14
- Paul explains the gospel does its best work when the Holy Spirit is given room to move in the delivery of the gospel
- Man’s wisdom or eloquence is unable to impact people’s lives with a spiritual message.
Challenge – Are we allowing the Holy Spirit to lead and take full control in our conversations as we share the gospel of Jesus Christ?
- How can we make sure that our faith rests on God’s power and not our own wisdom?
- Why do you think some churches or Christian organisations may be tempted to dilute the full gospel message?
- Read the 6 points from Tony Merida and discuss where SBC currently stands.
- How was Jesus’ crucifixion related to the world’s lack of understanding of God’s wisdom?
- In verse 6 Paul indicates the result of the world’s wisdom compared to the life-giving source of the Gospel. Discuss why people may struggle to see the importance of receiving the gospel in their lives?