I’ve been thinking about the term “gospel-centered” of late. It’s one that sometimes gets overused, admittedly. Gospel-centered discipleship strategies and churches and curriculum and publishers and conferences… That no one has unironically described a roast of coffee as gospel-centered is nothing short of a miracle.
All teasing aside, I actually do like the term. I think it’s helpful, and I think it’s necessary, if for no other reason than how it serves as a reminder for me. That there is something to be centered on—something that transcends many of our differences with other denominations and networks (and even within our own, as well). That the gospel is big enough for a certain kind of diversity, whether church polity, preaching styles, or certain secondary sticky theological issues, as long as we remember what matters most. The thing that makes us Christians.
The gospel: the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
That’s been a necessary perspective for me over the last 10 years. For as long as I’ve been working with Christian ministries, I’ve had to navigate the choppy waters of communicating about theological issues to a very diverse group of believers. I used to write for an organization that connected with denominations and networks from across the spectrum of evangelicalism. They could comfortably work with churches that might just as easily identify with a theological system that shall not be named,1 as those that struggle with the term “evangelical” altogether. With my current role, I’m doing something very similar: working with a diverse group of churches, from a number of different denominations, in order to help them in their mission to make disciples.
Being “gospel-centered” is what helps me do that. It doesn’t make me look for opportunities to separate from healthy believers, or healthy churches. Instead, it makes me look for opportunities to celebrate our common center, and give a strong foundation to partnership in the great commission.
- Let the reader understand. ↵