Gospel Workshops – An Idea for Consideration

I have argued for several years now that the greatest need for our churches today is the recovery of the gospel.  Some people have concluded that what I mean by that is everyone embracing the doctrines of grace; however, a casual observer of my blog could able to discern that is not the case.  What I mean is understanding the functional centrality of the gospel and its sufficiency in every aspect of the church.

I have become more and more aware of this need when I talk to, for instance, seminary-trained Christian counselors who have never heard or been trained in how to apply the gospel to situations in life involving believers and conflict of any sort or a leadership style that reflects more of corporate one-upmanship rather than the gospel style of decreasing to serve others.  I have grown up in the county-seat First Baptist Church and heard how the gospel of Matthew was a how-to manual to overcome stress, worry, fear, and so on and also been in the seeker-sensitive megachurch where the stories are gripping but the gospel missing.  I have been in the smaller, more rural church where the preacher is excited and earnest as in the tradition of revivalism but the gospel is reduced to a few points and a prayer.  Reflecting and experiencing these realities have served to increase the burden in my heart for the gospel to be preached, lived, and result in truly transformed lives.

Recent conversations with believers both offline and online have provoked a desire to foster gospel centrality in the local church by providing opportunities for folks to engage, learn, and dialogue with others.  To a large degree, I believe that the systemic problem of gospel absence in our churches has not been intentional (though that case could be made in some liberal churches).  Rather, it is not understanding the full scope, the power, the breadth and the depth of the gospel and how God uses it not only to convert sinners but transform them “from one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor. 3:18).

Below is a sketch I drew up yesterday of what I am calling a “Gospel Workshop”–a mini-conference addressing the centrality and sufficiency of the gospel for church life.  I’d like to get your thoughts on this, and in particular if you think pastors or church leaders would be interested in something of this nature.

Main Sessions:

1.  What is the Gospel?; Theological Vision of Gospel Centrality in the Local Church; Philosophy of Ministry (DNA of Gospel-Centered Church)
2.  Gospel-Centered Preaching
3.  Gospel-Shaped Worship
4.  Gospel-Driven Living
5.  Gospel-Saturated Community

Breakout Sessions:

1.  The Gospel and Evangelism/Mission
2. The Gospel and Leadership
3. The Gospel and Spiritual Disciplines (esp. prayer)
4. The Gospel and Counseling/Conflict
5. The Gospel and the Marriage/Family
6. The Gospel and Cultural Engagement/Social Action

If I were to break it down into a schedule, it could look something like this:


7PM         Main Session 1: Theological Vision/Philosophy of Ministry
830PM    Q&A


9AM         Breakout Session 1
1030AM  Main Session 2: Preaching
12PM       Lunch
2PM         Breakout Session 2
330PM    Main Session 3: Worship
6PM         Dinner
8PM         Main Session 4: Community


9AM       Breakout Session 3
1030AM Main Session 5: Living


Explore posts in the same categories: Community, Culture, Ecclesiology, Evangelism, Gospel, I Love the Local Church, Leadership, Prayer, Preaching, Social Reform, worship

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15 Comments on “Gospel Workshops – An Idea for Consideration”

  1. mattcapps Says:

    Main Sessions:

    1. What is the Gospel?- D.A. Carson
    2. Gospel-Centered Preaching- John Piper
    3. Gospel-Shaped Worship- Bryan Chapell
    4. Gospel-Driven Living- Mark Driscoll
    5. Gospel-Saturated Community- Tim Keller

    Break-Out Sessions:

    1. The Gospel and Evangelism/Mission- Mark Dever
    2. The Gospel and Leadership- Albert Mohler
    3. The Gospel and Spiritual Disciplines- Bruce Ware
    4. The Gospel and Counseling/Conflict- Paul Tripp
    5. The Gospel and the Marriage/Family- David Pawlison
    6. The Gospel and Cultural Engagement/Social Action- Russell Moore

    • Okay, so I wasn’t going to do the line-up, but since you did, here are some guys crossing my mind:

      Main Sessions:

      1. What is the Gospel?- Tim Keller; D.A. Carson
      2. Gospel-Centered Preaching- Tom Ascol; Steve Childers
      3. Gospel-Shaped Worship- Bryan Chapell; Bob Kauflin
      4. Gospel-Driven Living- Michael Horton; Bob Thune
      5. Gospel-Saturated Community- Jeff Vanderstelt; Steve Timmis

      Break-Out Sessions:

      1. The Gospel and Evangelism- Mark Dever
      2. The Gospel and Leadership- Darrin Patrick
      3. The Gospel and Spiritual Disciplines- Bruce Ware
      4. The Gospel and Counseling/Conflict- David Powlison
      5. The Gospel and the Marriage/Family- Paul Tripp
      6. The Gospel and Cultural Engagement/Social Action- Daniel Montgomery
      7. The Gospel and Discipleship- Jonathan Dodson (added)
      8. The Gospel and Prayer – Paul Miller (added)
      9. The Gospel and Mission – David Platt (added)

      Not far off from your list, but a few changes/additions. This kind of conference, of course, would be a much different sort of thing from T4G or TGC because it is applicational and context-oriented.

  2. I think it is a great idea. Perhaps instead of a 2 day conference you could hold the sessions 1 night a week for 6 or 8 weeks or more. It would even be appropriate for a Sunday AM preaching series.

    The practical application and outworking of the Gospel is sorely absent and greatly needed EVERYWHERE within the church.

    • The practical application and outworking of the Gospel is sorely absent and greatly needed EVERYWHERE within the church.

      That is precisely why I want to see something like take places. Thanks for your thoughts Matt.

      • That’s why I think the focus should be members and not just pastors.

        This is the type of teaching that needs to be rolled out to small groups, men’s groups, bible studies, youth, etc.

        Instead of the 10 steps to your better life now or 5 point and prayer sermons or the latest SS quarterly, Beth Moore or Kay Arthur study, we need to see the practical application of the Gospel to real-world situations.

        How do I, as a community group leader, bring the Gospel to bear on the brokenness that people bring?

        How do I, as a husband and father, bring the Gospel to bear on my daily life and combat both the sinfulness within me and the world and the religiousness in me and the church?

        Your vision for a yearly conference is awesome, but it MUST be followed up with practical weapons for use in the trenches of daily life. The Gospel is not a long range weapon – rather, it must be used hand-to-hand and heart-to-heart.

  3. Troy Bush Says:

    You are touching a significant issue. It is not enough to understand that Christ redeemed us from our sin. We must also understand, as the Scriptures teach us and Christ again and again exemplified, how to live out this truth in our lives. It is especially important that this Gospel-saturated living inform how we live as disciples in cities.

  4. You’ve got a great agenda and a conference that I think would be beneficial for many.

    Put it near a big city or airline hub and you might make it reach further than just a regional conference.

    I’d figure out how to participate if it was near Miami and my schedule was open. This kind of theological thinking is needed.


  5. Peter Bogert Says:

    I started a series 3 weeks ago that will last through the fall entitled Rooted Deeply in the Gospel. I’m spending several weeks going over what the Gospel is and is not and then looking at some of the implications.

    So, Tim, I think you have a good idea, but maybe for more than a weekend.

  6. John Says:

    Excellent conference idea! I don’t think you would have to work hard at moving it around necessarily. these days everything is recorded. Just write special study guides and let churches download the mp3’s/dvd’s for small group study/discussion.

    Make sure you get the conference itself out of the Bible belt and up somewhere like Detroit. 😉

  7. Bill Nettles Says:

    My pastor, Lee Tankersley, just started a series on Galatians that will last all Fall. It’s all Gospel definition and application.

  8. Tim,

    As always, you are right on target. The need is great because so many folks I engage in South Georgia only think of the Gospel as Jesus dying for your sin and never consider how it affects you marriage, conflict, etc. One additional topic I would add is, “The Gospel and Work/School”.

    It seems that everyone has a variety of ideas of what kinds of cities and places and times, etc. If you want mid-size cities and 3/4 a year…just make the first one in either Valdosta or Macon, GA and I am there my friend!

    • Bryant King Says:

      I like the idea of a work and school application. After all, that is where most people spend most of their time. Who out there speaks from a perspective of one who has considered their calling and then stayed in the secular marketplace and also sends their kids to school? I would be interested in knowing the names of folks who have written or spoken from this perspective on this subject as I would very likely read them. I wouldn’t expect such a person to be a prolific writer or speaker or else I would doubt their secular working credentials, but surely they are out there. It would stand to reason that they are less well known than those who are paid by Christians to sequester themselves from secular work and read and then write books back for those same Christians.

      So even if I could never attend a conference, who are some recommended names of speakers or authors who write as those called into the secular workforce and who send or sent their kids to secular schools and can speak to the gospel application in such situations.

      Bryant King

  9. Ryan Wentzel Says:

    Host the conference in Southern California and I’m there 😉

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