Gospel-Centered Discipleship Series: Click | View Series
When You're Not Gospel-Centered
The foundation of discipleship is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Churches fall into error whenever they move away from the gospel as their foundation. One of the causes of the lack of discipleship in contemporary churches is bad ecclesiology. The recent trends developing in North America, such as megachurches, seeker churches, and emerging churches, have brought the issue of ecclesiology to the forefront of debate and discussion for church leaders.
Un- and Off-Centered Structure
Many churches in North America have given in to the sin of pragmatism. They have a pragmatic approach to ecclesiology that focuses on church growth more than on church health, and on cultural accommodation rather than biblical faithfulness. Some churches have either adopted a hierarchical structure that resembles a corporate business, or they simply have no church structure at all. The result is that many churches produce consumers and not radical disciples of Jesus Christ.
The truth is that church structure is extremely important for the overall health of a local church and the discipleship process. Church leaders can use church growth principles to add people to the church; however, only the gospel can grow people into disciples of Jesus Christ.
The Gospel Is the Center For Everything
Alan Hirsch reminds us that "Discipleship, becoming like Jesus our Lord and Founder, lies at the epicenter of the church's task. It means that Christology must define all that we do and say… It will mean taking the Gospels seriously as the primary texts that define us." Therefore, the gospel of Jesus Christ that saves individuals is also the gospel that grows individuals through discipleship.
Understanding the Gospel
There is a need for a clear understanding and a rediscovery of the gospel in the 21st century. Jerry Bridges says, "The gospel is not the most important message in history; it is the only essential message in all of history. Yet we allow thousands of professing Christians to live their entire lives without clearly understanding it and experiencing the joy of living their lives by it."
What is the gospel? The gospel is the declaration of the good news that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that he died for our sins on the cross of Calvary. Simply put, there is no gospel without the sinless life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Tim Keller beautifully describes
the gospel this way: "In the person and work of Jesus Christ, God fully accomplishes salvation for us, rescuing us from judgment for sin into fellowship with him, and then restores the creation in which we can enjoy our new life together with him forever."
To be continued.