Why The Gospel Still Matters: Has Church Just Become a Social Club?
Today 20% of Americans attended a Christian church. What is church really? Is church really any different that a social club or a support group? Does it really serve a greater purpose in the lives of Christians? What about in your life? Or is it just a time to shake hands and let everyone you know including God that you have crossed “attending church” off your weekly duty list?
The church without the Gospel of Jesus Christ being the central message, meaning, and driving purpose really is no different than an your average social club. And I think it’s time we ask ourselves a very important question. What role does the Gospel play in the church and our Christian community?
I’m not writing this to bash the church. I think the church gets enough bashing. Instead of protecting, providing, and caring for the Bride of Christ, oftentimes Christians are demanding, careless, and withdrawn from their local church. Why? Because we are just in the social club. So we treat the church as such. It’s time that we, as members of the church, make a change.
10 Ways You Can Bring the Gospel Back to Our Churches:
1. Make the Gospel message central.
It’s time we make the Gospel message the central message we communicate at church. There is nothing more important, powerful, and transforming than the love of our God, who sacrificed everything, so that we can have life. This should be the reason for every sermon we preach, every song that we sing, every prayer that we pray, and every person that we hug. This is what the church has that every support group and social club is lacking! This is true and transformational love and grace. This is the only source from which a true community of people can function.
2. Get back to the basics.
Once the Gospel is central in your thinking, it can easily become your reason for everything. Community and church doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it comes from such a basic place. Everything is about how you can display the Gospel to your fellow church members and the world around you. Lose all the complications. Lose worrying about what people think about you. Church is not about you. It’s not about what you can receive. It’s a place to worship Jesus for the Gospel. And it’s a place to display the Gospel to others.
3. Unconditional Love
Jesus Christ has loved you with unconditional love. Practically, this is something He has called you to do. It’s time to go to church with the purpose of loving Him, others, and your local church in that kind of way. Unconditional love expects nothing in return. You shouldn’t either.
Jesus Christ paid the ultimate sacrifice for each one of us. And His sacrifice was completely from a place of grace. We need to sacrifice for our churches. We need to sacrifice for each other. We need to give our hearts as sacrifices to Jesus. Church can become again, a place of sacrificial worship.
Jesus calls the church the Bride of Christ. One of the most beautiful Gospel displays of a bride is the quality of faithfulness. So be faithful. Do the right thing, when it counts. Fill the church with faithful people. And do it because that’s what Jesus was to you.
True community and church doesn’t work without raw vulnerability. Without it, it’s just another social club to put on your “happy face.” But the “happy face” doesn’t preach the Gospel. The Gospel is about a God who saw even your most messed up, ugly sins and took the punishment you deserved for them. We cheapen the Gospel when we lose our vulnerability at church and with people.
7. Submit to Authority
Ultimately Jesus submitted to God to the point of death. When He looked at the fate of the cross He told His Father, “Not my will, but Your will be done.” As Christians, we are called to submit ourselves to the Lord and to the authority that Christ puts in our lives. The church isn’t a perfect bride. The church isn’t a perfect authority. But it is one that God has given us. Ultimately we love Jesus and His church when we humble ourselves and seek it’s unity and well-being.
As Christians, we have been called to carry out the mission of the Gospel in this world. Jesus reconciled (healed) our relationship with God. The Gospel offers the world physical, relational, and emotional healing. God intended this healing to be extended to the world through His people. We must not lose sight of our mission.
9. An Attitude of Gratefulness
It’s time that we were thankful for the freedom to meet and worship. It’s time we were thankful for the opportunity to better experience Jesus in community. We must be thankful for the opportunity to participate in the Gospel.
10. Show Something Different
A Gospel-Centered church truly shows the world something different. A Gospel-Centered church shows the world a different kind of community than a social club or support group. A Gospel-Centered church can physically demonstrate the love and power and reality of Jesus Christ in the world like nothing else can.
“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
“The Culture of The Gospel” by David Ritchie
Previous blog on this topic:
Pure and Spotless Bride