I’m reading Darrin Patrick and Matt Carter’s book, For the City: Proclaiming and Living Out the Gospel, and I was blown away by this passage:
During our conversations, the assessment team and I had open and honest debate about an appropriate philosophy of ministry. Our interactions were friendly and loving, not adversarial . . . All of my conversations with them, though, came down to one piece of advice and one basic question: “We think you should have a model. Which one will you choose?”
So I gave in. Sort of?
I replied, “You want a model? Here it is.
“Imagine an urban church so influenced by the power of the gospel that it seized every opportunity to proclaim and live out the gospel for the good of the city. Imagine that this church physically and spiritually served the poorest of the poor, but also lovingly rebuked the wealthy. Imagine this church as the epicenter of straight-up, God-fearing, Spirit-filled revival, leading thousands of people to eternal life in Christ in just a few years. Imagine a church that built elderly housing, housed all the orphans in the city, and taught wealthy business people to have a ‘double bottom line’ so they could run a profitable business in order to support the work f the church and meet the needs of the city.
“In other words, imagine a church that boldly preached the gospel and lived out the values of the kingdom. Don’t you want to be a part of a church like that?”
“Of course. Who wouldn’t?” they responded.
“What if I told you that the church model I’m describing is as trusted, tried, and true as any you’ll find?” I said.
“What model is it?”
“Metropolitan Tabernacle,” I replied, receiving blank stares in return.
“Where is it? Who’s the pastor?” one team member asked?
A thin smile spread across my face.
“London, 1852,” I said. “The pastor is Charles Spurgeon.”1
I loved reading this (so much so that I went back over it twice) not because it was a shot at the assessment guys or about any particular ministry model, but because of what it represents—what happens when a church is gripped by the gospel and empowered by the Spirit to serve as an outpost, a foretaste of the kingdom still to come. Would that this could be said about all our churches.
Perhaps it will before the day is through.