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.
Today we’re going to focus on the “Why” of discipleship. This is more than a command we are to obey. We disciple because God disciples us with and through the Good News of what Jesus has done and continues to do, and begins with what we were made to be. God relates to us firstly as persons bearing his image. God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in love, made us to know him and find our joy and happiness in him. This means:
1. Life has meaning. Life is going somewhere. Our work and mission have meaning.
2. We are being daily Gospelled. Jesus personally came, incarnating himself as a fully human being; he came to rescue and reconciliation; and in his work through his Spirit, he gives life, serves and conforms us into the perfect image of God we were meant to be.
3. Jesus chose you to be his disciple. He has pursued you and made you his disciple and he continues to disciple you, relationally, personally, missionally, and spiritually moment by moment.
4. There is no such thing as making it on our own. We learn and change best in community with others. We need them and they need us. I need to be Gospelled by others because I so easily slip into doubt.
We must tap into the Gospel motivation of why we are Gospelling Life Together and be captivated by Him and the implications of all the good news he brings in everyday life. The thought that Christ not only took our punishment but also grants us his righteousness and inheritance, restoring rightful honor to the Father and then to us, should inspire awe in the heart of every Believer. We have been so loved, forgiven, rescued and empowered! He lives now interceding with the Father on our behalf, to love and give mercy, power and purpose. The Gospel isn’t just to get us forgiven and “saved” but for life now. We can overcome the things in life that work to crush us, enslave us, and kill us. We have been given His Holy Spirit for power to change. It is perfect life on life.
Once we understand the better “Why” of gospelling life — other than simply another command to follow — our next movement is to see and understand our core identity.
Having a solid “Core Identity” is a vital component to living a healthy life because everyone operates their life — from the way you manages stress, make or break relationships, choose a career — based on a core identity. It is how you have answered two fundamental questions: Who am I and why am I here?
Your CDI (Core Disciple Identity) is composed of three parts. Your health as a disciple of Jesus is consistent with the degree you have understood these realities and have integrated these three aspects into your inner being. They form a healthy identity. In fact, I’m certain the health and thriveability in your Christian life is related to the degree that you have incorporated them into your sense of being.
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At CMM, we believe every pastor, church planter, ministry leader, and missionary is created to thrive in ministry. We use the C.R.O.S.S. disciple-making, which involves intentional Gospel conversations with focused discussions about one another’s relational, personal, missional, and spiritual life so that each disciple loves, matures, and reproduces — by the Spirit’s power — the way God intends. It is, at a most basic level. We suggest getting a C.R.O.S.S. Gospel Coach to help walk with you through the challenges you’ve never faced before. This type of ministry coaching and/or church coaching will help encourage and equip you every step along the way.
by Dr. Tom Wood
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.”
In reality, all Christians need to learn how to do the Gospel Dance if they hope to see God transform their lives into what God intended originally. Gospel Dance is the three step of sanctification. These steps are in constant, rhythmic motion.
1. The first step in the Gospel Dance is belief (Delight) in the graciousness, goodness, and greatness of God that Christ has done everything for me to make all right with God the Father.
2. 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”, and admission of disbelief and/or disobedience. We also turn from our self-righting activities and plans.
3. The third step is the fight to live by the first two and follow in “obedience that comes from faith” (Direction) to 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:
Engaging the Gospel in Life
How do we work out the Gospel 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 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? Those are the real questions of a Gospel Life.
In these next paragraphs, Martin Luther, one of the fathers of what we now refer to as the Reformation, 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 Leaders Operating by the Gospel
Too often we base our justification (made right with God) on our sanctification (ongoing transformation), 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, behaviors, and emotions. This is especially easy to do when you are leading others! 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, in order to please him and remain in his good standing so he will bless our lives. Or perhaps we do so out of fear of rejection or loss of his protection.
We must base our sanctification (how much we are changing) on our justification, especially as leaders operating by the Gospel. 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. We are Cross-shaped leaders. The truest thing about us is the fact that we are a loved, adopted, forgiven child of God. For the Gospel shaped leader, all of life, ministry or work 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 common phrase: “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 leader is created to thrive. We suggest getting a C.R.O.S.S. Gospel Coach to help walk with you through the challenges you’ve never faced before. A Gospel Coach will help encourage and equip you every step along the way. Learn more today!
by Dr. Tom Wood
"GOSPEL COACHING is the single most important ingredient in the health and sustainability of a ministry leader."
Obviously that is quite a bold statement. But having been leading ministry for over 30 years, and having only half of those years being involved in coaching, I can assure you of its reality. Coaching, with the gospel as the central organizing principle, is more important than training seminars (and I train), reading a book for a new skill (and I have written 5 books) or even “practicing to make perfect” (and I play golf that way).
Paul wrote to his protégé Titus that the gospel teaches us to live lives of ongoing repentance (to say “No” to our desires for what this world offers that are not honoring to God), to ongoing Faith (Jesus gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify us for himself—as his very own!), and to ongoing Following (to say “Yes” to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives; see Titus 2:11,12). Using those three steps of what I call the “Gospel Dance” is life critical for the leader. Gospel Coaching utilizes those realities in navigating ministry leadership.
Ongoing gospel-leading is not a decrease of your desires and an increase of your will power to do better for God, nor to be more faithful in ministry or more duty bound. It is not a matter of the will, but the heart. We are always controlled by our deepest desires. People do what they love to do. And in leading others, no matter what the job, the ministry can easily become the thing we are most passionate about — at the expense of our kids, our spouses, and even God. I know because I’ve been there and have a dozen T-shirts to prove it. When Jesus is the true passion of your heart, your deepest joy and satisfaction, then all our other desires are brought into order. A Gospel Coach will help you to discover the freedom of the gospel for leading.
“The true secret to all ministry is spiritual power. It is not man’s genius, or man’s intellect, or man’s energy; but simply the power of the Spirit of the God of the Gospel. It is well for all [leaders] to bear this ever in mind. It will sustain the heart and give constant freshness to their ministry. A ministry that flows from abiding dependence upon the Holy Spirit can never become barren.
“If a man is drawing on his own resources, he will soon run dry. It matters not what his powers may be, or how extensive his reading, or how vast his stores of information; if the Holy Spirit be not the spring and power of his ministry, it must, sooner or later, lose its freshness and its effectiveness. How important, then, that all who minister in the gospel should lean continually and exclusively on the power of the Holy Spirit. He knows what souls need, and He can supply it. But he must be trusted and used. It will not do to lean partly on self and partly on the Spirit” (C H Macintosh, Notes on the Book of Numbers, 1861).
Gospel Coaches also involve "Kingdom Prayer" in the coaching conversation. Why is prayer so important to a Gospel Coaching conversation? Prayer helps the Leader remember that God must work. We do not just add a prayer to conclude coaching. Sometimes prayer is necessary during the coaching conversation. It isn’t necessary that it wait until the end. Sometimes the leader should stop and confess his/her sin or praise God for granted grace and forgiveness. Sometimes the coach may stop and offer praise and thanksgiving for the great things God has done. At the end though, prayer allows coach and leader to realign the focus and dependence upon the gospel and His Spirit. Ample time should be reserved for praying together.
Sometimes in coaching we have to use “Interventive Prayer.” Interventive is how we pray when there’s a crisis or ongoing need. It’s how we pray when a child is sick or someone in the church is having a marital blow up. It’s our ongoing prayer list for the same things each week.
As Gospel Coaches, we need to invite the leader to also have “Preventative prayer” in there leadership life. This is the daily workout with God. It is the Gospel Dance in the soul. It is ongoing time of repenting of my negative emotions and false beliefs (If I had more people coming then everything would be better or If God would send us some leaders we could really have a greater impact). Preventative ongoing repentance helps strip away our false saviors and idols.
It also informs our faith system with “True Truth”. Jesus really has done it all. I pray thankfully that He has lived the life I cannot live. His death has paid for my guilt and shame. His life now before the Father is one of intercession and provision. I have His Spirit in me. I have a True Midnight Friend, a Father, who knows what I need and is eager to give good things to me, his son. Even his own Spirit! With that, my new affections are to believe him and follow him. That is prayer at its best.
Many ministry leaders and pastors feel confused or discouraged about what to do when they’re struggling. A Gospel Coach will help guide your church through a process of identifying and implementing practical, measurable, gospel-focused ministry practices that sharpen the God given mission and improve the health of the local church. 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!