Archive for September 14, 2010

Sep 14

The Gospel Coalition: A Theological Vision for Ministry, Continued (DSC+TGC Part 4)

2010 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Recommended Link,Vision

In our last post introducing you to The Gospel Coalition (TGC) we explored the first half of the coalition’s Theological Vision for Ministry.

The second half of this document is worthy of its own post. It is framed with two questions concerning the gospel and its implications.

First, In what ways is the gospel unique?

Secularism tends to make people selfish and individualistic. Religion and morality in general tend to make people tribal and self–righteous toward other groups (since their salvation has, they think, been earned by their achievement). But the gospel of grace, centered on a man dying for us while we were his enemies, removes self–righteousness and selfishness and turns its members to serve others both for the temporal flourishing of all people, especially the poor, and for their salvation. It moves us to serve others irrespective of their merits, just as Christ served us (Mark 10:45).

Secularism and religion conform people to behavioral norms through fear (of consequences) and pride (a desire for self–aggrandizement). The gospel moves people to holiness and service out of grateful joy for grace, and out of love of the glory of God for who he is in himself.

Some implications of this gospel are worked out in answer to the final question raised in this document: What is gospel-centered ministry? The document follows this question with an explanation of five marks of gospel-centered ministry:

  • Empowered corporate worship: “In corporate worship God’s people receive a special life–transforming sight of the worth and beauty of God, and then give back to God suitable expressions of his worth.”
  • Evangelistic effectiveness: “Because the gospel (unlike religious moralism) produces people who do not disdain those who disagree with them, a truly gospel–centered church should be filled with members who winsomely address people’s hopes and aspirations with Christ and his saving work.”
  • Counter cultural community: “Because the gospel removes both fear and pride, people should get along inside the church who could never get along outside…Thus the gospel creates a human community radically different from any society around it.”
  • The integration of faith and work: “The good news of the Bible is not only individual forgiveness but the renewal of the whole creation. God put humanity in the garden to cultivate the material world for his own glory and for the flourishing of nature and the human community.”
  • The doing of justice and mercy: “Christ wins our salvation through losing, achieves power through weakness and service, and comes to wealth through giving all away. Those who receive his salvation are not the strong and accomplished but those who admit they are weak and lost. We cannot look at the poor and the oppressed and callously call them to pull themselves out of their own difficulty. Jesus did not treat us that way.”

Who doesn’t believe in “empowered corporate worship” or “evangelistic effectiveness”? Certainly most evangelical churches do. In fact, we should say that all true churches must. But the actual manifestation of these fruits is something different than agreement. At DSC, we want these things, and we want them as described in this vision for ministry because we want the gospel to be central in our life together.

This post is fourth in a series of posts introducing DSC to The Gospel Coalition (Read, Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3).