underestimated

underestimated

I remember going for lunch a few years back. It was a group of guys and we had been talking about the gospel. One of the guys in the group challenged the rest of us to share the gospel with someone at the restaurant. One guy took up the challenge and he introduced the band of bros at the table to our waiter and said who we were and why we were meeting. He sprinkled some faith questions in our waiter’s direction and if my memory serves me correctly, he got to the gospel with him and invited him to our church the next morning.

Sharing the gospel is both hard and easy at the same time. The message is simple but being bold can be extremely hard but we have a power gospel that lives in us. I think we have made it more complicated than it really is.

Many times I have material in the hopper part-way finished for the blog. I likely have at least ten posts at various stages of completion that may or may not get posted. I am usually thinking a few days ahead but I came across an ad for an upcoming conference at Southern Seminary yesterday and I had to include it in my post, so things changed. Here’s what part of it said:

‘The chronic temptation for church leaders is to build their churches with personal charisma, good programs, ethnic identity, self-help, the style of our music, and much more. We want to build with human things.

The problem is, human beings have a supernatural problem, which means the solution is supernatural. Praise God, therefore, for his supernaturally wise and supernaturally powerful gospel!

The gospel tells the story of God, man, Christ, and a requisite response. It heralds the news about creation, fall, redemption, and a glorious consummation. And it is the only thing that will build a church. All that other stuff only builds a crowd.’

I like that. ‘Human beings have a supernatural problem, which means the solution is supernatural.’ We need more that catchy songs and catchy programs and catchy sayings on our church signs for people to come to faith.

Is there anything wrong with personal charisma? Absolutely not. Should we ditch good programming and have crappy music…no. We should do things well to the glory of God. But if the gospel takes a back seat to all the other stuff, we are putting our hope in human stuff instead of a supernatural gospel. The supernatural gospel brought Christ back to life…that’s power, folks!

I have been a part of several T4G conferences, always with a pastor bros at my side. But the most memorable one, from my vantage point, was in the spring of ’12. I heard a lot of speakers and got a lot of free books and bought a pile of cheap books and had lots of conversations but there was an overarching theme to the conference: the underestimated gospel. We underestimate the power of the gospel and we overestimate the bells and whistles that North American believers are peddling that are suppose to grow our churches.

I believe that some of us believe that if we’re working hard, then God will bless our efforts. We can work really hard on a dramatic production and have the lines down, word for word. Our music teams can work their buns off to get each song note perfect. We can have our big events with all hands on deck where every component of the event is picture perfect. But if our hope is not in the gospel, our efforts won’t be as fruitful as we’ll want them to be.

We want more than a crowd on Sunday morning. We want true disciples of Jesus Christ stunned by the gospel, saved by the gospel, and empowered to live out our faith well in light of the gospel.

If you were to read the book of Acts day after day after day after week after month after year you would see two things rise to the top: prayer and the Word. They prayed…the Word went forward. They prayed…the Word went forward. They prayed…the Word went forward.

I wonder sometimes if we need to simply get back to the basics. I wonder if our churches would be farther along if we simplified things and put more effort into the Word and prayer. I wonder if we trashed our gadgets and gizmos and put more hope in the tools of the early church, that if a more far-reaching modern-day reformation would take place across North America.

[16] For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. [17] For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17 ESV)

[18] And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18 ESV)

[20] Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, [21] to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21 ESV)

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