Gospel-centered Church Part 2

Below are the 7 points of being a Gospel-centered church that Pastor Keller gave the other day in Berlin. These points help us “center-in” on the Gospel like I wrote about in the last post.

  1. Gospel Renewal — utilize the power of the Gospel to change character; not psychological selfishness to try to get people to have things “go well” in their lives. The two moralistic motivators are pride and fear. Often, these two are the ones we appeal to by default in our teaching. However, the Gospel both humbles us out of our pride and then affirms us out of our fear. The Gospel changes everything in our approach and response to life. 


  2. Contextualization — If you over-adapt to a culture or, on the other hand, say that everything is bad in a culture, then you’re not reading the culture well enough to bring the Gospel to bear on it.
    Over-adaptation is an insecurity that desires people to like us.
    No-adaptation is a prideful superiority.
    The Gospel brings poise and helps us with the balance of humility and boldness

  3. City positive — it’s not starry-eyed about cities but understands the hard difficulties within them. It’s not comfortable but understands that Jesus made himself uncomfortable for all of us. So, the Gospel will draw you toward cities, not repel you from them. If you can’t stand the city, the Gospel hasn’t gotten ahold of you in some area.

  4. Cultural engagement — see how cultures work; to hollow-out the culture from within — neither triumphalistic nor withdrawn.

  5. Missional Bearing — The community expects the presence of non-Christians experiencing the Body. Therefore, how things are presented and talked about will be done with a sensitivity to mission and an anticipation of members of the city involved who may not yet understand or agree with the Faith.

  6. Holistic — evangelism and mercy together; sharing the good news while living the good news. This would be the sum total of word and deed ministry. They both help you go more deeply into the other when practiced. 

  7. Movement oriented — Humility to work with others for the benefit of the city — not just trying to “increase the tribe”

Spiritual Widows Do and Don’t Build the Church


I use the term “spiritual widow” to describe a spouse (more often a lady) whose mate shares no concern with them toward God or the Scriptures. Sometimes the non-believing spouse is simply indifferent and then we have observed others who are openly belligerent.

The believing spouse, therefore, enters our church family and experiences long seasons of up-and-down; from joy to grief. More often than not, the spiritual widow needs comfort and prayer. Simply put, they often need much more than they give. Commonly seen in their lives is a lack of godly leadership, faithfulness, doctrine, strength, and hope. If you only look at what they have to offer, you would not look to them to build the church when just coming to church is a weekly dilemma.

About 5 years ago, we only had a few spiritual widows. At last count, we now have around 17 people (including widowers) that share this deep ache for someone they love. So, the church has grown! A number of these folks are involved in our missional communities and more.

Another sign of the Gospel at work is the inclusion of the down. These precious people quantitatively have more problems in life to sort through. Their resources are often spent just trying to keep going. Their lives are messy. But these examples seem just like the people Jesus was around — and the kind of people he called to build his Church.

By reaching out to these dear friends again – and again – the efforts are seemingly exhausted in the natural realm. However, Jesus sees both their needs and our “wasted” efforts. And, if it pleases Jesus, he will build his church in the strangest of ways with the weakest of people. Spiritual widows and widowers DO build the church – because that is who we as the church are.


The Meeting Fixation

I recently posted about thepulpit fixationwhere churches practice the great majority of their ministry from the pulpit — to the exclusion of operational Christian community. In this post, my thought goes to another ministry extreme that we’ve encountered among small groups. That tendency is to say that as long as we have “small or home group meetings” all of the ministry is being done through those meeting times. And that leads us to this important point: what we have is a meeting fixation to the exclusion of life lived together in Christian community.

The benefit of small group meetings is that they are another opportunity along-the-way of missional community life that is lived all week long. The default tendency is to put all of the emphasis onto the event of the meeting and to load all of the ministry into a 2-3 hour block of time together. NO, beware of doing that. Jesus is the King, not an event or program we’re running.

Again, the small, gospel community meeting at a home is meant to give people a friendly, family-time with Jesus. We can think of it as a rally point within the week that intentionally eats and shares both the Word and life together. Another way to say this is that a small group meeting is one of the numerous ways that we share life together throughout the week — not the only way. A meeting can richly assist our relationships to grow more deeply, but it is too short to have the necessary face-to-face and foot-washing time that spiritual friendships really need. Our friendships and Christian communities need the Bible coursing through them in a thousand different ways.