I’ve been honored and humbled by how many churches and ministries are using The Gospel-Centered Life as part of their basic discipleship curriculum. So it might help to explain: how might those same churches and ministries use The Gospel-Centered Community? What’s the niche, the angle, the focus of this new resource, and how does it build on what we’ve written before?
Here’s an excerpt from the introduction:
One thing we’ve learned in our years of ministry is that the gospel has to be at the center of Christian community. Without the gospel, community groups will always become unhealthy. Some will become ingrown and self-absorbed. Others will become busy and activist. Either way, they will lose their compelling power to display the glory and grace of God. Only with the gospel at the center can a community become a thriving nexus of gospel discipleship, rich fellowship, and Spirit-empowered mission.
It’s one thing to see the need for gospel-centered community. It’s another thing to know how to cultivate it. How do you take a church, a small group, or even a family and build a vibrant gospel culture within it? That’s where we hope this study will help.
This study—The Gospel-Centered Community—is a follow-up to another work we produced a few years ago called The Gospel-Centered Life. That study focused on personal renewal dynamics. The current one seeks to apply those same renewal dynamics to a larger community. Through a combination of Bible study, reflection, discussion, and application, we want to help your community experience the transforming power of the gospel.
To put it simply, here’s how I’d frame it: GCL is primarily intended to form individuals, while GCC is primarily intended to form groups. Use GCL for individual discipleship – for instance, as the material for an “intro to Christianity” class or the first season of a brand-new missional community. Use GCC for communal formation – for instance, in a membership class or the second season of a missional community.
GCL will help ensure that the people in your community are formed in the basic dynamics of spiritual renewal. GCC will help ensure that your community as a whole is marked by those same dynamics. Our prayer and longing is that God’s people would walk in the joy, freedom, and humility of ongoing gospel renewal – as individuals and as the Church.