Trevin Wax, now an editor with Lifeway (our Southern Baptist publishing house) recently published a book, Counterfeit Gospels. It is well-worth reading (and I am almost finished). I am intrigued by his thesis that the gospel is built on three foundations: the story, that is to say the facts of the gospel; the announcement, i.e. the preaching and proclamation of the kingdom of God; and the community, i.e. the fellowship of faith. Since I haven’t finished the book I can’t effectively review the entire book, but what I have read has stimulated my thinking, and affected my preaching.
Nearing my 20th anniversary as pastor of this church, and nearing 30 years of pastoring small, mainly rural churches in the Northwest, I am deeply concerned about the model of ‘church’ that we seem to plan and model. I have been as guilty of others of promoting a way of doing church that is rooted in tradition rather than Scripture. Yet, trying to break out of that pattern is difficult. Though I grew up in a suburb of a large city, the church I attended was more like a rural church in that everyone seemed to know everyone else (and their business). The center of our social life was not the community but the church and never did the two meet (at least as best I can recall).So, I struggle with a 50 plus year old habit in my own life.
Now to the point: a recovery of a biblically true presentation of the gospel will change the way we do church. Instead of gathering to gossip and share information we should gather for mobilization into ministry. Instead of using our building to house the saints, we should utilize our building to facilitate community building and activities that offer platforms for proclaiming the gospel. Instead of centering our social lives around the activities of the church we should center our lives in our neighborhood and community and use the large gatherings not just to reinforce what we already believe, but to offer opportunities to explore how what we believe changes who we are and how we live in families, neighborhoods, and communities.
Just some thoughts for a Monday…!