The history of the church as well as observation of the contemporary church show that God’s people always suffer from gospel drift. That is, the church slowly but surely tends to move away from the gospel just as our bodies slowly but surely move away from health.
God so loved the world that he sent his Son on a rescue mission to lead people from death to spiritual life. His mission required a flint-like focus on destination Calvary. Yes, there are many other aspects and facets to that mission, but if you lose the cross you lose the mission. As the Father sent Jesus, so Jesus sent his followers … into the same spiritually dead world, with a message to speak that souls might be rescued, disciples made and multiplication of the mission maintained. But the church drifts.
We drift into lesser projects and, if we are not careful, we start to call them the mission. After all, it always feels better to be successful at something we can do, rather than keeping focused on something we struggle to do. The lesser projects are often not unimportant. The lesser projects should be supportive of the great mission. But when they become identified with the mission, that is a sure sign that drift is occurring.
How often do churches become so consumed with a building project that they lose sight of the greater mission? What about making the church program the best it can be? What about trying to live good lives as a silent witness (and therefore, eventually, no witness at all)? What about improve-human-life projects so that the poor can be less poor? What about political activism that seeks to right wrongs somewhere? Every one of these things is important, and hopefully Jesus would be central to our motivation for each one, but if we are not careful, we will lose Christ’s flint-focus on the mission.
As preachers, we lead and influence. So here are 7 quick ideas to stay gospel sharp in your ministry:
1. Restore your gospel focus in your Bible reading – if you are in the Old Testament, watch the gospel trajectories that lead to Christ; if you are in the Gospels, watch Christ’s mission unfold; if you are in Acts, watch the message spreading; if you are in the epistles, watch the application of the gospel to the challenges facing the church.
Tomorrow I will complete the list…