Friday, December 6, 2013

What is A Gospel-Centered Church?

And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)

It seems that everywhere you go today you hear of something being gospel-centered. I cannot even begin to count the amount of books that have been released this year that claim to be gospel-centered and we are strongly encouraged as followers of Jesus to make sure that everything about our life is gospel-centered. Being gospel-centered is a good thing as it reminds us to keep the gospel as central in all that we do; but we must be mindful not to just slap the title gospel-centered on anything and everything that we want.

Recently a former Greek Orthodox Priest friend of mine said that he was staying at home on Sunday to watch a political news program because there were not any Greek Orthodox Church parishes in the area where he was staying. I challenged him on this and encouraged him to check out one of the many gospel-centered churches that I know exist in this city. 

Another friend of his challenged my claim due to many claiming to be gospel-centered, but falling very short of the gospel and the early church. I understand his point that many can claim something and not in actuality be it, but it caused me to think, "What is a gospel-centered church?" How would one really define a gospel-centered church.

I agree with Joe Thorn when he says, "A gospel-centered church is a church that is about Jesus above everything else. That sounds a little obvious, but when we talk about striving to be and maintain gospel-centrality as a church we are recognizing our tendency to focus on many other things (often good and important things) instead of Jesus. There are really only two options for local churches; they will be gospel-centered, or issue driven."


  1. Thanks for sharing the post, Matt. I'd like to offer a corrective comment because I don't want readers to get the wrong impression. They may ultimately still disagree with my position, but I want to make sure something is clear to them, first.

    I did not stay home deliberately to watch a political program because I felt there was no Church to go to. As I made clear on my Facebook post that engendered this discussion, I was at home with my daughter praying the Service of Typica which is what Orthodox Christians pray when there is no Church liturgy to attend. Apart from that, I flipped on the TV for a few minutes while eating breakfast with my daughter and saw the program that sparked my annoyance and made me comment on the phenomenon of Sunday morning political shows. Since I generally am at Church on Sundays (before I resigned being a priest, I had missed perhaps 5 or 6 at the most Sunday worships in 14 years), I have not seen these shows, but out of curiosity I flipped them on and then made the remark about "how could someone watch this stuff regularly; it makes me so mad" which was aimed at some of my secularist friends who do in fact seem to live off of such programming.

    So seeing the program was a consequence of being at home, yes, but it was not like I decided to skip Church, forget about the Commandment to Honor the Sabbath Day, and just go all-out secular; rather, I did in fact pray the prayers that are appointed for worshiping Our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ with my daughter, and we know that "where two or three are gathered..."

    Again, I look forward to discussing the actual issue at hand in more detail when we meet in person, God-willing soon, but I just wanted to clarify this one point because while some people may still disagree with my decision not to attend another denomination's services that Sunday, I don't want readers to be left with the impression that I totally forgot about Jesus and just watched trashy political nonsense instead.

  2. Thanks for the corrective comment, I hope that I did not mislead anyone within my posting. I do look forward to connecting with you as we further our friendship, practice some Hindi, and talk gospel-centered theology over some brews.