You Aren’t Gospel Centered

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There’s been a resurgence in the last few years around the gospel. This is a good thing. We are starting to have a larger view of the gospel, seeing the gospel as more than just how one is made right with God, how one is changed and how one goes to heaven. We are seeing the gospel for Christians as well and how the power of the gospel changes us into who God has called us to be.

This is positive.

It has also created a new thing to complain about.

Now, preachers are gospel centered preachers. If you want to sell a book, throw the word gospel into it. Parenting, preaching, church planting, maybe even write a book called the gospel. 

Now, bloggers complain about writers and preachers who aren’t gospel centered. Maybe, if you are a pastor, you’ve had someone tell you, “I’m leaving your church because you aren’t gospel centered.”

When I’ve heard this personally, what this often means is, “You don’t preach the gospel the way I think the gospel should be preached.” In other words, “I think the gospel has specific components and need to be said in a certain order (ie. the Romans road) and if you don’t say them in that order, you haven’t preached the gospel.

This has also become code for deeper preaching and not having to move forward and do anything with a sermon someone gives.

So, if you are a pastor and get someone who comes up to you after a sermon or sends you an email telling you that you aren’t gospel centered, even though someone started following Jesus in that same sermon, what do you do?

  1. Ask them what it means to be gospel centered. Most of the people who will make this complaint have a prophet lens. For them, gospel centered is the gospel they heard when they got saved, how Tim Keller or John Piper tells the gospel message or something else, but something very specific. One of the best ways to learn from them and help them understand your perspective is to ask them what they think is gospel centered. Sadly, most people who make this complaint cannot actually articulate it. I had one guy complain about this for almost a year and he could never tell me what it meant to be gospel centered, only that our church wasn’t it. Finally, he said we were to sensitive to seekers, so that made us not gospel centered. At that point, you can actually have a conversation, when terms are defined.
  2. Lovingly tell them the gospel from your perspective. As you move forward, explain to them what the gospel is from your perspective. All over the New Testament, there is evidence of Peter and Paul communicating the gospel differently depending upon their audience. This is important for a pastor to keep in mind. So, what John Piper says at a Passion conference may have a different goal and audience than your church in New England or rural Nebraska.
  3. Understand the fears that come from someone with this complaint. Most of the complaints around this, and I can say this since the camp I’m a part of, the Reformed camp is the one blogging and complaining about this issue. It comes from fear. As we watch our country become more and more liberal, people are fearful that the church is going the same way, and many are. This is a legitimate concern, not fear. Scripture is clear that we are not to be afraid. This is a great shepherding moment for you as a pastor. Many leaders miss this opportunity in an effort to be right or win the argument.

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Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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  1. Rebecca Watson on 6 ways to get more done. These are helpful ideas to be more productive.
  2. What churches can learn from Chick Fil-A.
  3. Thom Rainer on Millenials reject Christians fighting. I’m a pastor and I’m tired of Christians fighting, which makes me wonder how sick our culture is of it.
  4. 5 ways a pastor can handle people leaving their church.
  5. Will Mancini on How to reach 20-something’s. Great profile of what makes Austin Stone so strong.
  6. How Andy Stanley and Tim Keller preach to Non-Believers. Great profile of two great communicators.
  7. Brian Howard on How to find a great youth pastor. This is so true.
  8. An open letter to Mark Driscoll. This whole thing is sad that he would lie on social media to push his book forward.
  9. How to be leaders of meaning in an age of information overload.

Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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  1. Why pastors should be in a study group.
  2. Jen Wilkin on Parents, do you think before you post something online about your kids. Great points for parents to think about.
  3. How to leave a church well. Such a good post. Most people leave churches quietly, but some leave with as much noise and destruction as they can muster.
  4. More honest church postcards. Good for a laugh.
  5. Tim Keller on Handling the question of the bible having contradictions.
  6. Check out the latest worship song from Soma. Such a great song.

How to start a Mumford & Sons Band. 

The Goal of Jesus

Here is a quote I shared at the end of my sermon today at Revolution:

Jesus, the king, created all things in love. He has the power and the beauty to see His vision for the world through to its glorious end, to undo everything we have been able to do to harm it. To accomplish that, He had to come and die for it. Three days later, He rose again; and one day will come back again to usher in a renewed creation. The gospel is the ultimate story that shows victory coming out of defeat, strength coming out of weakness, life coming out death, rescue from abandonment. And because it is a true story, it gives us hope because we know that life is really like that. It can be your story as well. God made you to love him supremely, but He lost you. He returned to get you back, but it took the cross to do it. He absorbed your darkness so that one day you can finally and dazzlingly become your true self and take your seat at His eternal feast. -Tim Keller, Jesus the King: Understanding the Life and Death of the Son of God