February 18, 2008

It’s The Gospel Stupid

This weekend I came across a message given by Tony Payne at a recent event that 9Marks and Matthias Media held called "Gospel Growth vs. Church Growth"

It's a great message and you really should listen to the whole thing by right clicking here and downloading the MP3. There were several parts of the message that I'll blog about but the snippet I want to talk about today is:

Read Colossians Chapter 2, it's a terrible indictment of modern Christianity captivated by false religion and by experiential philosophy and by a different Jesus that isn't the Jesus who is preached to us in the apostolic word. And that's why Paul says it here. Don't be seduced by the latest ministry program that promises you a fail-safe secret, a new label, an extra step, a new experience, or dare I say it a second blessing. Don't be seduced by them. It's not about tricks or techniques. It's not about something different. It's about understanding and grasping the word of Christ more and more and more deeply so that it changes your heart and life….Gospel growth is not about moving on or going beyond Christ, we must remember that.

As I prepare to plant Eternity, this admonition is the one I want to grab a hold to most.

Too many churches today are looking for the "silver bullet". Their church is declining, in shambles, or in need of a massive overhaul and instead of correctly diagnosing the problem, they begin to look for the latest "evangelistic" para-church fad that's going to rescue their congregation from the abyss. They believe that it's because they haven't had the right program that things have gone wrong. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Churches aren't faltering because they are using the wrong programs. They're failing because they've had the wrong focus. It doesn't matter how many programs you have at your church, it is all in vein if Jesus isn't the hero.

I recently heard a sermon where the pastor was preaching on a particular subject and it was your general "Seven principles to doing such and such". It was 15 (FIFTEEN) minutes in before the name of Jesus was ever mentioned and even then Jesus wasn't the focus, He was just a principle.

And this is happening all around our country and our world. We want to look to anything but Jesus. We want to make the Gospel "five verses and a prayer" and then move on to our eschatology eight balls because it's cool to speculate how many planes are going to fall out of the sky when the rapture happens. We've missed the point.

It is possible to be seduced by another Jesus that appears in the Bible. It's possible to be seduced by theology. If Jesus (and the Gospel) is not the focus of your theology and your programs, you're leading yourself and other people towards destruction.

The whole focus of the Bible is Jesus and it's crystal clear. But somehow, we've let Jesus get really fuzzy in our churches.

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