(Fair warning: stream-of-consciousness post follows…)
I am in New York City for a few days at a church planters’ round table thing hosted by Trinity Grace Church. This first evening we visited one of their missional communities, just to get a feel for what kinds of things happen in them, etc. Afterwards we went to a diner to debrief a bit with some of their leaders.
One thing we discussed tonight has captivated me a bit. Some of us were discussing that in efforts to distance ourselves from fundamentalist pasts and show a fuller view of salvation, we had emphasized community and relationships and social justice. All good things, of course. But is that all there is to the gospel? Good relationships? Salvation is not just about having quality friendships, just like it’s not just a legal way to get to heaven.
I started thinking about it as a pendulum, or a continuum. Some churches are all gospel/no community. They preach the Word accurately, but there’s no sense of community in the congregation. Other churches are all community/no gospel. They “do life together” really well, but they have little understanding or concern about the gospel reaching new people. But seeing it as a pendulum or continuum invites the concept of “balance,” which I don’t think is right, because it implies that to get “more” gospel you need to sacrifice community. Likewise, if you want “more” community you need less gospel. That’s just not true.
We need churches that are 100% gospel-focused and 100% community-focused. Both/and, not either/or, and not “balance.”
But maybe that’s all too theoretical. Instead, maybe think about these two questions:
- If someone asked you what the gospel was, would you able to give a coherent answer?
- If someone wanted to know where they could connect with other Christians informally, would you know of a community to point them to?
One of the goals I have for Christ Church is that most people in our community would be able to give coherent, meaningful answers to both questions.