Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Some Priorities (in retrospect)

As I reflected on serving at OBC for the last four years, I took some time to look back on what some of my priorities have been. I really didn’t come to Delaware with a clearly defined 5-year action plan of programs, change, and transition. But, I did have some core convictions and philosophical bents, and as I look back those have (hopefully) been evident.

#1 – The Gospel
Because of what I believe in my heart and what Scripture convinces me of, I have desired to keep the gospel in a prime place in our church. I knew this would not be unfamiliar to Ogletown, but still I felt convicted that our gospel-legacy should be held in tact. As I look back on how I tried to make it a priority, it has come out in a number of ways (here are just a few):
  • The message I shared on my first Sunday was called “Of First Importance” and the text was 1 Corinthians 15:1-3. It seemed then, as it does now, that if we get the gospel (the good news) wrong, we are vulnerable to many other distortions of Christianity.
  • On Wednesday evenings last summer, we spent time in a series called “The Gospel-Centered Life.” This summer, we grew through a series called the “Gospel in Life.”
  • Each week we sing the gospel, pray the gospel, teach/preach the gospel, and many weeks we ‘see’ the gospel (through baptism and Lord’s Supper).
  • On our Book Table each Sunday, you can purchase books that describe and define the gospel, that apply the gospel to life, to marriage, to discipleship, to parenting, to church life, to relationships, etc.
  • As we speak of the gospel in our Membership Matters class, we share that the gospel is not just the ABC’s of salvation, but encompasses the A-to-Z of the Christian life.
  • This past Sunday, I alluded to an identity statement that said “Ogletown Baptist is a family of redeemed sinners seeking to display the glory of God among our neighbors and nations by being a gospel-shaped, gospel-sharing people.” Shaped by the gospel and sharing the gospel describe what our culture and mission should be as a church.
The reality is all that passes for truth is not truth, all that passes for ‘Christian’ in a Christian bookstore is not Christian, and all that passes for the gospel is not the gospel. There are watered-down gospels, prosperity gospels, do-better and try-harder gospels, political gospels. The gospel has almost become a buzz-word that is misused, misunderstood, and ill-defined. But, simply stated, the gospel is a simple message about the promised God-man who lived perfectly, died on the cross as a substitute for our own sin, came back to life on the third day, and offers forgiveness from sin, refuge from God’s wrath, and reconciliation with God the Father for those who turn to Him and trust. This has revolutionary effects on our life, on our church, and on our world.

We cannot improve on this message. We should not try. We need not soft-sell it or think it needs to be made more palatable. It is the power of God to save us (Romans 1:16).