“How to have a Gospel-Centered Ministry”
There are dozens of books and hundreds of conferences that claim to have answers to help your ministry, but the bible really only declares one: the gospel. No other message, technique or strategy will transform the a sinner to a worshipper of Jesus Christ.
Romans 1:16 NIV
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.
It is in the gospel message that people understand that their sin has separated them from God and that they can be freed through Jesus Christ from God’s wrath. No amount of good deeds, service or acts of justice can accomplish this transformation alone. It takes a verbal proclamation of what Christ has done so that the “power of God” can take effect.
What is the Gospel?
The word gospel means “good news.” It is the good news that one can be saved from their sins and enter into an eternal relationship with a holy God through Jesus Christ. The gospel has three main components:
#1. The holiness of God.
1 Samuel 2:2 NIV
““There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.”
Revelation 4:8 NIV
“…‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.””
Holiness is the only trait of God listed in scripture in the superlative. Nothing about the gospel will make sense without first understanding the holiness of God. Holiness is absolute perfection and being completely free of sin, deceit or wickedness. Like the sun incinerating any object that gets close, God’s holiness repels and annihilates sin, injustice and wickedness when it enters His presence. Therefore, no sinner can ever enter!
#2. The sinfulness of humanity.
Romans 3:23 NIV
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”
Ecclesiastes 7:20 NIV
“Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins.”
While we can be moral, virtuous and good, no one can live up to the righteousness and holiness of God. Even our morality, good works, etc., fall short (Isaiah 64:6). Before there can be good news, there has to be bad news. This is the bad news!
#3. The redemption of Christ.
Ephesians 1:7 NIV
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace”
The word “redemption” means to buy out, pay a ransom or deliver one from bondage. In biblical terms, it means that a sinner has been freed from the power and consequences of sin. When you place your faith in Jesus, a two-way transaction takes place: our sins are imputed (deposited) to Jesus, and His righteousness is imputed to us. At the moment of conversion, our sins (past, present and future) are removed, and Christ’s righteous nature is birthed inside of us by the Holy Spirit. This new nature allows us to enter into an eternal relationship with a holy God. This is the good news Jesus proclaimed!!
The Unpopularity of the Gospel
The more we preach, teach and apply the gospel to our ministry, the better chance a person’s heart will become transformed by the power of God. However, don’t expect to draw throngs of people:
2 Corinthians 4:1–5 NIV
“Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.”
There will always be a majority of people who will reject one or more of the three elements of the gospel message. Jesus said that wide is the road that leads to destruction (Matt 7:13), meaning that the majority of people will eventually reject the gospel. Though the gospel is transformative, it will not be popular.
Because of the unpopularity of teaching about sin and holiness, there will always be heretics that promote a different gospel. These are “Christian” teachings that compromise or eliminate one or more of the three elements:
The Seeker-Driven movement – An attempt to woo people into church by appealing to their sense of entertainment and downplaying the reality of sin.
The Prosperity Doctrine – A teaching that promises that God will make you wealthy and healthy if they just have enough faith or give enough money.
The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) – A movement that believes God has brought back the power and authority of apostles who provide new revelations.
Making Ministry Adjustments
- Make sure your teaching/curriculum points to the person and work of Christ.
- Avoid moralism.
- Avoid or minimize topical teaching.
- Commit to expository, exegetical teaching.
- Make sure your worship music proclaims the person and work of Christ.
- Vet the lyrics not just the music
- Use songs that sing to or about Jesus.
- Minimize songs that sing about the individual’s experience.
- Make sure the pinnacle of your programming is the person and work of Christ.
- Align games/activities to enhance the message.
- Make sure the majority of your time is spent in prepping the message.
- Delegate administrative/programmatic elements.
- Make sure your counseling brings their lives back into alignment with the gospel.
- Is there a sin to repent of?
- Is there lack of knowledge about God’s grace and mercy?
- Is there a biblical promise to be made aware of?
Earning God’s Praise
It is never our job to grow our ministry, nor is it our job to make people believe; that is the Holy Spirit’s job. Ours is simply to become a mouthpiece of God declaring the best news ever with clarity, boldness and conviction:
Romans 10:14–15 NIV
“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!””