Have you ever asked any of these questions:
· Do people like me for who I am or for what I have?
· Will I find love in this life?
· How can I protect myself from pain or rejection?
· Why do I fail at everything I try to do?
· Am I beautiful?
· Do I have what it takes?
· How can I make my future secure?
· How can I be useful in life? Is this job all I have?
· How can I make my life make a real difference in the world?
· Is there a God and is He safe?
· Does God approve of me? Does he like me?
· How can I find peace?
I am certain you have asked or still ask one or more of those. These questions are examples of how we view our lives relationally, personally, missionally, and spiritually. Which bring us to the concept of Gospelling.
“Most people think of the Gospel as a noun. It is a thing. You hear about it. You receive it. You believe it. You share it. The Gospel is something you can hold on to, put in your pocket for another day, or give away... But in 1 Corinthians 15:1 Paul makes a very interesting statement. In our English translations it doesn’t seem so interesting. The NIV translation simply says, ‘I want to remind you of the Gospel I preached to you…’ Nothing interesting there, but the Greek is quite different. The literal Greek translation of this phrase is, ‘I want to remind you of the Gospel I Gospelled.’… ‘Gospel’, in this case, is both a noun and a verb. Not only is it a thing, but it is also something you do. Something you live. Something you embody. You Gospel” (Nate Pyle, Blog, 1/6/13).
Gospelling is the present participle of the word Gospel. It means that the Gospel is active now, presently in life, not simply something that occurred in the past. It is the process of how the Gospel ignites the relational, personal, missional, and spiritual life of the disciple actively and presently. We have been called to enjoy life with God and others. That is the ultimate end of life together.
In the new book I’m writing, Gospelling Life Together, we will explore how the C.R.O.S.S. Disciple-Making method is about the friendship of trialoging about those types of profound life questions. Gospelling Life Together teaches a journey of laughing and lamenting with other travellers or disciples. It is praying with and for one another. It is listening and learning one another’s life story, enjoying their company and friendship and progressing forward in the mission God has for each.
Disciple-making relationships should be fun. But we must also enter into the sorrow and brokenness of life. We listen to one another’s confession of sin and how it has ruined and alienated. We encourage one another back to the Gospel Story of Rescue and Renewal. We are peacemakers. We are participants in Christ’s reconciling all things to himself, by sharing the gospel story with those who have not heard his good news.
If you would like to learn more, download your free eBook Gospel-Centered Discipleship today: http://www.cmmnet.org/free-church-planting-tools.html
In the weeks to come we'll be exploring the concept of Gospelling as I prepared to release my NEW book: Gospelling Life Together.
Questions to continue your thinking:
Briefly re-visit your disciple-journey. Where did it begin and when did you first sense you were on a new journey? Who discipled you and what did discipleship look like in your life? How has it helped you? What would you go back and do differently? Who will you invite to gospel life together?
If you would like to read more today, click here to download "Gospel Life of the Church Planter" for just $5 -- OR you can click here to purchase the entire book, "Church Planter Field Manual: Fishing" to learn about disciple-making in the church, team building, developing leaders, and more!
When I was a pastor I was asked on occasion, “Can Christians dance? My answer was, “Well, some can and some can’t. Just look at them on the dance floor and you can tell.”
Actually, all Christians need to learn the Gospel Dance if they hope to see God transform their lives into what God intended originally. Gospel Dance is a three step.
The first step in the Gospel dance is belief (Delight) in the graciousness, goodness, and greatness of God through Christ alone. The second step of the Gospel dance is a life of repentance (Despair) with an ongoing realization of one’s broken condition, along with a humble admission, “I cannot do this apart from Jesus.” The third step is the fight to live by the first two and follow (Direction) what God has called us to be. The Christian life is 1-2-3, 1-2-3, believe-repent-fight or Delight, Despair, and Direction. The first or second step of a dance is not the last time you step there. So it is in the Gospel dance. Your first step is to believe. Your second step is repent. You will return to those steps again and again as you follow.
This is what it looks like practically:
Applying the Gospel
How does the Gospel help us daily? How does it become less of a doctrine and more of a lifestyle?
The Gospel is not so much a truth as it is the fabric, the stuff, of our relationship with God. How does it affect fear and jealousy and worry and envy and discouragement? How does it connect to how we view the hardships of life? At the same time, how does it instruct our joy? How does it connect to the things that give us contentment and satisfaction?
In these next paragraphs, Martin Luther relates the Gospel to fear, depression (at least that which is not caused by physiological reasons), and what he calls a “troubled conscience.
“There is a righteousness that the apostle Paul calls ‘the righteousness of faith.’ God imputes it to us apart from our works--in other words, it is passive righteousness...So then, have we nothing to do to obtain this righteousness? No, nothing at all! For this righteousness comes by doing nothing, hearing nothing, knowing nothing, but rather in knowing and believing this only--that Christ has gone to the right hand of the Father, not to become our judge, but to become for us our wisdom, our righteousness, our holiness, our salvation! Now God sees no sin in us, for in this heavenly righteousness sin has no place.
“So now we may certainly think, ‘Although I still sin, I don't despair, because Christ lives, who is both my righteousness and my eternal life.’ In that righteousness I have no sin, no fear, no guilty conscience, no fear of death. I am indeed a sinner in this life of mine and in my own righteousness, but I have another life, another righteousness above this life, which is in Christ, the Son of God.
“Christians never completely understand [this] themselves, and thus do not take advantage of it when they are troubled and tempted. So we have to constantly teach it, repeat it, and work it out in practice.
“Anyone who does not understand this righteousness or cherish it in the heart and conscience will continually be buffeted by fears and depression. Nothing gives peace like this passive righteousness.
“The troubled conscience has no cure for its desperation and feeling of unworthiness unless it takes hold of the forgiveness of sins by grace, offered free of charge in Jesus Christ, which is this passive or Christian righteousness… Once you are in Christ, the Law is the greatest guide for your life, but until you have Christian righteousness, all the law can do is to show you how sinful and condemned you are. But if we first receive Christian righteousness, then we can use the law, not for our salvation, but for his honor and glory, and to lovingly show our gratitude” (Martin Luther, Preface Commentary on Galatians).
The Basis for our Work as Church Planters
Too often we base our justification on our sanctification, and not the other way around. In other words, we judge our relationship with God, and the stability and even certainty of that relationship, based on our actions and behaviors and emotions. This is especially easy to do when you are planting a church! The internal and external voices in your life tell you, “It’s up to me to do this.” We subconsciously obey God, and follow him and serve him, in order to please him and remain in his good standing so he will bless our plant. Or perhaps we do so out of fear of rejection or his unwillingness to help us grow a stable church.
We must base our sanctification on our justification, especially as Church Planters. We must live confidently based on the truth of our salvation. In reality, the Christian life is nothing more, and nothing less, than a lifetime of living out the implications of the cross. The truest thing about us is the fact that we are a loved, adored, forgiven child of God. For the Church Planter, all of life and ministry is based on that fact.
Only the Gospel, only the truth of the cross, can give us an accurate self-image. Only the Gospel allows us to agree with Jack Miller: “We are far more sinful than we could imagine, but, at the same time, God is far more loving and forgiving than we could ever dared to have hoped.”
Want to know more about The Gospel Dance? Download your FREE eBook “The Gospel Dance” today!
At CMM, we believe every pastor, church planter, ministry leader, and missionary is created to thrive in ministry. We suggest getting a C.R.O.S.S. Coach to help walk with you through the challenges you’ve never faced before. A C.R.O.S.S. Coach will help encourage and equip you every step along the way. Learn more today!
Dr. Tom Wood
I've been in the Church Planting business my entire career. I want you to know, you don't have to plant a church alone!