This post originally appeared on the Acts29 website.
The Message Front & Center
In these latter years, the idea of community has been exalted as the most important aspect of a church’s identity and sanctification. Many as of late state that if you don’t have people in community and vital relationships with on another, sustainability of souls will break down.
I find myself in somewhat agreement with that in that the principle of community finds itself implicitly or explicitly expressed as imperative from Genesis to revelation. With this in mind, community without central gathering principles can be scattered. Jesus understood the importance of community in that He eternally exists in it with the Father and the Holy Spirit, created human community with the Godhead, and as the word would mandate its importance. Yet, without a message to redeem, gather, and sustain community, our work is mute.
The message of the word centralized on the gospel through the power of the Spirit is how community is created. When Jesus and the Apostles preached the gospel, community came into existence (Matt 5-7; Acts 2). Preaching and its content constantly keep the cycle of discipleship going and credible. When Paul left Timothy in Ephesus, the issue that was most prevalent was the need to correct the content and spirit of the message (1Tim 1:3). Message issues caused great community unrest (2Tim 2:14-19). The message of the gospel must be preserved and saturate every area of our lives in order that all may be placed in biblical order. Although, the message does not stand alone in sanctification, it cannot ever be a subsidized and sanitized part of the Church’s life and mission. 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 is exemplary in that the message is given first place. Jesus is the one who through the preaching of the message holds together the community.
“Without a message to redeem, gather, and sustain community, our work is mute.”
What’s exciting is that the message is not merely for the proclamation of the messenger, but also the congregation as they embrace the message of the word of God in their lives. As the message envelopes the people of God, they are able to remain steadfast in God’s ultimate goal to present us complete in Jesus (Col 1:28). The message is the way we keep the image of Jesus before the people. In keeping that image before the people, we get chiseled into His image through life on life and the hearing the message.
“The message of the gospel must be preserved and saturate every area of our lives in order that all may be placed in biblical order.”
My hope is that the term gospel-centered would not lose it’s savor, but find its deepest place in our lives as we seek to root it in what the word of God actually says. Whether one is seasoned in ministry, planting a church, or looking to plant, the timeless reminder of the message of the gospel always is a refreshing point to keep front and center.