We like to speak of Coram Deo as a gospel-centered missional church. We like to speak of Acts 29 as a gospel-centered church planting movement. But what do we mean when we say “gospel-centered?”
- We must know the gospel (gospel message). Most Christians overestimate their own understanding of the gospel message. The gospel is something “into which angels long to look” (1 Peter 1:12). And angels are smarter than you. Which means: if you think you “get” the gospel, you probably don’t. We must devote ourselves to an ever-deepening knowledge and appreciation of the gospel of Jesus.
- We must experience the gospel (gospel motivation). The gospel is not just a message to be believed, but a power to be experienced. Until the gospel transforms our motivations, we will obey God primarily out of things like fear, pride, duty, or guilt. Those motivations simply aren’t strong enough to sustain lifelong, radical obedience. Only when we begin to live out of our new identity in Christ will we find ourselves loving God deeply and obeying him freely.
- We must live the gospel (gospel means). Popular Christianity has adopted a very truncated view of what it means to “share the gospel” (think evangelistic tracts, outreach events, and Christian radio). But the numbers don’t lie: these methods aren’t working. Why? Because they’re only part of the equation. The gospel demands that we ask: how do we declare and demonstrate the reality of the gospel in everything we do? How can the gospel inform and transform our daily rhythms so that the very stuff of “normal life” becomes a tangible expression of the gospel? What if our neighbors not only heard the gospel from our mouths, but saw it reflected in how we eat and celebrate and listen and rest and express generosity and participate in community?
These are the things we’ll consider together over the next few months. We refer to it as shaping “gospel DNA.” Our goal is to work the dynamics of the gospel so deeply into our souls and into our church culture that it gets expressed and replicated in everything we do.
For those of you who have been around Coram Deo for awhile: how would you describe the difference between merely knowing/believing the gospel and really being shaped by the gospel (having gospel DNA)?