Gospel-driven churches ought to be attractive

Jared Wilson:

The gospel is the most compelling, the most fascinating, the most incomprehensibly wonderful news ever. So how come we don’t preach or teach or talk like it is?

Fog-and-lasers churches don’t trust that the good news is compelling. Sturm und drang churches don’t act like it is.

It is true that the cross is an offense, a stumbling block, “foolishness.” And it is true that attractional-ism is an imbalanced mode of ministry.

But gospel-driven churches ought to be attractive. They ought to radiate joy. Their preachers should be self-deprecating, winsome, and visibly moved by the power of the gospel. If we truly believe the good news is that good, why don’t we make it sound like it is? Why do we sound bored? Angry? Disinterested? Or why do we seem excited about and interested in all sorts things other than the gospel?

This is not about tickling ears. It’s about speaking and living as if we feel that the gospel is true.

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13 Comments on “Gospel-driven churches ought to be attractive”

  1. mrclm Says:

    Logical fallacy = False dichotomy. You can have the gospel and lasers. The difference is the gospel isn’t optional.

  2. Bill Nettles Says:

    If the laser distracts the people from focusing on and remembering the Gospel (“wow, wasn’t that laser show cool?”), then the laser isn’t optional either. It’s gone.

  3. Jared Says:

    mrclm, same comment you left on my site. I will take it more seriously over here. 🙂

    My phrase “fog-and-laser churches” indicates churches that are defined by fog and lasers.

    I agree that theoretically speaking, one can have both gospel and lasers. Or dancing bears for that matter, I s’pose.

  4. mrclm Says:

    JW,
    I clicked through to your site since I didn’t know if you’d find my comment here, though this was my first comment.

    Bill,
    Two people stand in the room, one is distracted by the lasers, one came because of the lasers and also gets the gospel. Now what do we do? That’s why each church cannot reach all people. We need some with lasers, some with tattoos, some with guys in suits. But the descriptive can’t take away from the prescriptive, you’ve gotta have the gospel or your just a club.

  5. mrclm Says:

    That should be a “you’re” not “your”. Yes, I do have a Masters.

  6. Douglas Says:

    The Church is not driven, Gospel, purpose or otherwise, it is Gospel-given. Period. Thank God for that. The Gospel is not incomprehensible, it easy to be understood once one has had their deaf ears unplugged and their blind eyes opened, so easy that even a child can understand the Gospel. True? God’s aseity is incomprehensible among some of His other incomprehensible attributes.

    It is true that the cross is an offense, a stumbling block, “foolishness.”

    Yes, it most definitely is, to those who are perishing, a very hard saying it is too. But to those who are being saved it is a different story:

    1 Corinthians 1:18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” 20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence. 30 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— 31 that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the LORD.”

    It’s about speaking and living as if we feel that the gospel is true.

    Uhhhh???? Feel that the gospel is true? The Gospel is eternally true whether we feel like it or not. I know the Gospel is true. The Gospel is objectively true, past, present, future, in the eternal now. Subjective feelings do not prove or disprove anything. Feelings are fickle. Don’t trust feelings. Sometimes when I hear the Gospel proclaimed I leave the building feeling worse than when I arrived, feeling utterly dejected, despairing and helpless because of my total, radical corruption and the sin touching the very core of my being has been exposed once again by the bright light of the Gospel. The piercing of the Sword of the Spirit has done it glorious work once again, and again and again, until I reach glory. I am often left trembling at the convicting power of God’s Word. Then the healing balm of the Gospel calms my troubled. Not always instantly either. I don’t need laser beams or rock and roll music to set me on fire. The Gospel preached calmly and clearly more often than not does that for me. Even reading and studying the Bible in the quietness of home is enough to stir my soul into activity and set my heart a burning within.

    How many souls have been led to vain confidence by a man-made, evangelistic formula? How many are sent home from evangelistic services with calm, who should have gone away grieved and disturbed as the rich young ruler who approached Jesus? How many unsaved children have been given assurance by the teachers of Bible classes, so that they have ceased to seek God for salvation?” –Walter Chantry

    Why do we sound bored? Angry? Disinterested? Or why do we seem excited about and interested in all sorts things other than the gospel?

    I’m never bored, I do not have time to be bored even when I’m not on the Net or studying, I still have heaps to do. Angry? At unsound doctrine and Scripture twisting/torturing? Yes! It makes me really angry, how much more must it make the LORD Jesus Christ angry? Oh? Jesus Christ does not get angry now? Disinterested? I must admit, sometimes. Why? Because sometimes what is being said is unintelligible and a load of nonsense. You might be excited and interested in all sorts of things other than the Gospel but for me the Gospel comes first. In all its fullness from Genesis to Revelation. Sure there are other things that excite me and interest me, that is what it means to be a human being fully alive isn’t it. For one thing, I get excited and interested when my buddy takes me deer shooting up in the Alps. That’s exciting. You also see the grandeur of God’s handiwork up there, both day and night as if you could just reach up and grab one of those stars in you hands. Cor, I’ve got carried away, must’ve been a tad driven there for a while, eh?

    We must have the full message. . . ‘deliver the whole counsel of God’. . . . It starts with the Law. The Law of God … the demands of a righteous God, the wrath of God. That is the way to bring men and women to conviction; not by modifying the Truth…. We must confront them with the fact that they are men and that they are fallible men, that they are dying men, that they are sinful men, and that they will all have to stand before God at the Bar of Eternal Judgement….And then we must present to them the full-orbed doctrine of the Grace of God in Salvation in Jesus Christ. We must show that no man is saved ‘by the deeds of the Law’, by his own goodness or righteousness, or church membership or anything else, but solely, utterly, entirely by the free gift of God in Jesus Christ His Son. . . . We must preach the full-orbed doctrine leaving nothing out-conviction of sin, the reality of Judgement and Hell, free grace, justification, sanctification, glorification. We must also show that there is a world view in the Bible … that here alone you can understand history-past history, present history, future history. Let us show this great world view, and God’s Eternal purpose…. Let us at the same time be very careful that we are giving it to the whole man … the gospel is not only for a man’s heart, that you start with his head and present Truth to it … Let us show that it is a great message given by God which we in turn pass on to the mind, to the heart, to the will. There is ever this danger of leaving out some part or other of man’s personality… Let us be certain that we address the whole man-his mind, his emotions and his will.”D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones The Weapons of our Warfare pg. 21-22

    Bro., this is longer than the original post, hope it is ablessing anywaay.

  7. Jared Says:

    Doug, would the phrase “gospel-empowered” church change your mind any? Do you find that more “accurate”?

    Do you agree that the gospel is power?

  8. Douglas Says:

    “…would the phrase “gospel-empowered” church change your mind any?”

    My mind doesn’t need changing as far as that goes (my mind needs heaps of transforming though Rom. 12:1-2), I agree with a “gospel-empowered” church. There is no other church but the gospel-empowered church. If a church is not gospel-empowered it is not the church. The Church of our LORD Jesus Christ is all over the planet but in some places the lost have still not heard the true gospel. Even in western countries many people have still not heard the true gospel, it is getting drowned out by the Purpose-Driven® gospel which is no gospel at all. There are many counterfeit gospels out there.

    “Do you agree that the gospel is power?

    I certainly do agree Jared. More powerful than the power inside even a single atom. The power in the Gospel brings spiritually dead people back to life, eh? Splitting all the atoms in the whole universe/s will never be able to accomplish that. All glory to God alone.

    I’ve looked at many essay’s and articles by guys like Mr. Horton and many others that have this “driven” concept, Family-Driven, Church-Driven, Gospel-Driven, Faith-Driven, Promise-Driven, Purpose-Driven® so on and so forth and quite frankly I find it very disheartening and discouraging. Who truly wants to live a “driven” life? Not me that’s for sure. I was driven more than enough before I embraced the Faith. I want to live a free life now not a driven life. The only driven going on in the end will be God’s enemies driven out of His presence finally, forever.

    Today’s Gospel is Far From The NT Message
    Quoting Walter Chantry . . .

    “Can it be true that Christians are misleading the souls of men in regard to salvation? Is it really all that bad? Look at the evangelistic missions with all their gimmicks (I even heard a pastor say to a bunch of young people that if they could bring a certain number of kids out to Church, that he would swallow a goldfish in front of them . . . wacky but true). Examine all that you teach in the light of Jesus’ thorough going Gospel and you will have to agree – the Church is far from the New Testament message.”
    Continued here

  9. Jared Wilson Says:

    When I and, I think, when Tim say “gospel-driven,” we mean “gospel-empowered.” I believe you’re objection is based on word-aversion. Semantics. Or at least, it appears that way as I don’t disagree with anything you’ve written.

    To be driven by the gospel means to be changed by it and empowered by it and sustained by it.

  10. Jared Wilson Says:

    Oh!
    But I suppose we do disagree about the “feel” language, which was intentional.

    Demons know the gospel is true. We must have that knowledge, yes. But what a difference to actually enjoy the gospel, to be moved by it. Our salvation is not contingent upon feelings, definitely. But there’s nothing wrong — and a lot right — with enjoying the wonderful and eternal riches of Christ.

    “Dangerous duty of delight” and all that.

  11. Douglas Says:

    Thanks Jared, has been nice chatting with you.

    love

    Douglas

    Cause #6: Antirational Spirit of the Age

    I believe that we are living in the most anti-intellectual era of Christian history ever known. I do not mean antiacademic, antitechnological or antiscientific. By anti-intellectual, I mean against the mind.

    We live in a period that is allergic to rationality. The influence of existential philosophy has been massive. We have become a sensuous nation. Even our language reveals it. My seminary students repeatedly write like this on their exam pages: “I feel it is wrong that . . .” or “I feel it is true that . . .” I invariably cross out their word feel and substitute the word think. There is a difference between feeling and thinking.

    There is a primacy of the mind in the Christian faith. There is also a primacy of the heart in the Christian faith. Surely that paradoxical declaration sounds like a contradiction. How can there be two primacies? Something must be ultimately prime. Of course we cannot have two different primacies at the same time and in the same relationship. When I speak of two different primacies, I mean with respect to two different matters.

    With respect to the primacy of importance, the heart is first. If I have correct doctrine in my head but no love for Christ in my heart, I have missed the kingdom of God. It is infinitely more important that my heart be right before God than that my theology be impeccably correct.

    However, for my heart to be right, there is a primacy of the intellect in terms of order. Nothing can be in my heart that is not first in my head. How can I love a God or a Jesus about whom I understand nothing? Indeed, the more I come to understand the character of God, the greater is my capacity to love Him.

    God reveals Himself to us in a book. That book is written in words. It communicates concepts that must be understood by the mind. Certainly mysteries remain. But the purpose of God’s revelation is that we understand it with our minds that it might penetrate our hearts. To despise the study of theology is to despise learning the Word of God.” – from the introduction in Essential Truths of the Christian Faith, page xvi, by R. C. Sproul


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