Anticipating our church plant next year in Austin, I’ve been walking through our theological vision. So far we’ve looked at the first two phrases of the vision statement below. The next phrase is the center point, the pinnacle, of our identity. Nothing is more important to us than being centered on the gospel of Jesus Christ. Here is the statement I have been working with.
Under the Authority of God’s Word, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we will be a gospel-centered church that worships God, loves one another, and proclaims the gospel to the world.
Let me expand on this third phrase.
A Gospel-Centered Church (Gen 3:15, Isaiah 53, Psalm 110, Luke 24:27, John 1:14-18, Romans 1:18, Romans 3:21-26, 1 Corinthians 2:2, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, Ephesians 1:3-14, Revelation 5)
If I could only pick one of these phrases to share with someone about the vision of our church, it would be this one. All of these other priorities are vitally important, but there is a reason that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the center of our mission. We believe that the good news of Jesus life, death, and resurrection is the center of the Bible’s message and should be the priority in our church’s identity. The gospel is the good news that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, lived a perfect life and died in our place to save us from God’s judgment and unite us to himself for eternity. To ‘center’ our church on the gospel means: 1) all of our Sunday preaching will consistently highlight the centrality of Jesus’ person and work; 2) our teaching will celebrate the amazing grace of God in salvation through Christ; 3) our counseling will direct people to the promises we have in Christ Jesus for hope and for growth in godliness; 4) our outreach will prioritize telling our neighbors about the offer of salvation in Jesus; 5) our community will find its model and strength through our union to our crucified and risen Savior. To center on the gospel means that we reject the popular cultural idea of universalism, in which all beliefs and ways of life are equally acceptable to God. The gospel requires that we proclaim the Biblical truth of the holiness of God and his just condemnation of sin, and present faith in Jesus as our only hope. To center on the gospel also means that we are not centered on other very worthwhile elements in our church life, such as outreach, or community, or study groups, or passionate worship, or social impact, or family discipleship. All of these aims are good and Biblical and should be a part of our mission, but none of them can displace the gospel in the center. The gospel must be the center that defines and fuels all the other aspects of our calling. Finding our center in Jesus Christ means, finally, that all of our lives have been purchased for his glory and that as blood-bought saints we will run our race and build his church for his glory, keeping Him as our cornerstone.