Updated: Jan 14, 2021
What do we mean when we say we are a Gospel-Centered church? To an unbeliever, it may sound obvious (because doesn’t everyone believe in some type of gospel) but if you have spent any amount of time around church you have probably at least heard the word “gospel”.
The problem is, we sometimes can even use “gospel” in our language and not mean the same things or even worse- not know it. Literally, gospel means good news. So we must first define what the Gospel is so we can rightly understand what it means and doesn’t mean for our church when we say we are Gospel-Centered.
What is the Gospel?
Romans 1:16 says that the Gospel is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” Therefore, we know that the “Gospel” is a big deal because it provides salvation. We should then ask: “salvation from what?” The answer is our sin. Our sin has separated us from a holy God and leaves us deserving the penalty of eternity apart from Him.
So, the Good News that Jesus Christ went to the cross and paid the debt for our sins and endured the punishment we deserve in order to provide reconciliation to the Father really is good news. This is the clearest definition of the Gospel as laid out in Scripture. (Romans 3:23-25). There are many things in the Christian life that are a big deal and we need to get right, but the Gospel must be at the top of our list and something we do get right.
If the Gospel provides salvation and drives our worship, then that also means that if we get the Gospel wrong, it will have eternal implications and leave us worshipping something that is not as worthy as the God of the Bible.
What does being Gospel-Centered mean for our church?
Being a Gospel-Centered church means that Jesus’ work on the cross not only provides salvation but also sets the standard in everything we do as a church and individuals. Our deepest desire is that the Gospel is the center of everything we do in the large things as well as the small things.
Practically, we want Jesus’ work on the cross to be the center of our worship services, but also it should be at the center of small things such as spending our money on Gospel-advancing ministries and treating people around us with the same treatment we have received from Jesus. If we think a little deeper, haven’t we all been unfaithful to Christ? Yet His faithfulness has remained the same to us!
Therefore, we will take the Gospel seriously in all aspects. Because after all, it’s by being reminded of God’s goodness, our sin, and Jesus’ ransom that causes us to stand in awe of Christ in worship and stirs our affections for Him.
What is not being a Gospel-Centered church?
If we are not careful, our tendency is to create a me-centered church rather than a Gospel-centered church. Here are a couple of biblical examples.
We worship things from God and things God can do rather than God Himself. We will strive to do all we can to not seek things nor let things we do take the place of the Gospel. We see this in scripture in John chapter 6. There is a group of people who don’t follow Jesus for who He is, but rather because they want something Jesus can provide. Jesus responds to these people following Him for food by saying “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35). It is easy in our culture to do the same. To come to God or ask God to do things that seem good such as health, miracles, a larger bank account, or even a promotion at work but those things should not distract us from what truly satisfies us: Jesus.
We make secondary and tertiary things primary. This can seem like a never-ending slope on what is “protecting sound doctrine” and what is a “pointless quarrel”. However, we will take spiritual things seriously, while doing all we can to put non-Gospel things in the place they belong. This means that we will be clear about what the Bible teaches on theology, but things that promote preference or tradition as something to strife over- we will be quick to put in the place it belongs. Paul tells Timothy who is pastoring a church in 2 Timothy 2:23 “have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.” We want to be a church that is fighting for big “T” truth, rather than our own opinions.