Wednesday is for Prayer and Reflection
I ran across a brilliant article from an Jamie Dunlop, associate of Mark Dever and Capital Hill Baptist Church. Jamie and Mark have recently co-authored a book, The Compelling Community: Where God’s Power Makes a Church Attractive. The article was titled, “3 Ways We Prevent the Gospel from Making Our Churches Attractive.”
The article begins with this compelling question:
“What if the things you do to make your church attractive actually obscure the attraction of the gospel?”
Below I have included the introduction, the three things churches do that obscure the gospel (potentially), and a link to the complete article. It, the article, has two great benefits. One, it is short. Two, it is helpful, really helpful. It is well worth your time.
The attraction of the gospel is what Jesus described in John 13:35: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Not just love in general, but love for one another. That love in the Ephesian church—between Jew and Gentile who shared nothing in common but Christ—is what Paul says makes even the heavens above stare in wonder at the wisdom of God (Eph. 3:10). The gospel brings people with nothing in common (Eph. 2:18) to love each other even more deeply than family (Eph. 2:19).
Here’s an example of that kind of community: a few years ago, a Harvard professor visited my church. He was an expert in crowd psychology. He wasn’t a Christian. The relationships in the church fascinated him. It seemed people had nothing to gain from each other. He didn’t see any plausible explanation for what drew this ungainly group together—until, underneath it all, he discovered the gospel. Today, he is following Christ in our church.
In an attempt to be attractive, however, many of our churches let that vibrant, supernatural attraction of gospel-filled community sit idle in the background while we settle for tepid, naturalistic, similar-to-this-world attraction. To paraphrase those well-known words of C. S. Lewis, we’re making mud pies in the slums instead of delighting in a holiday at the sea.
How do we do that?
1. We divide a church based on similarity.
2. We downplay the commitment to each other Jesus expects every Christian to make.
3. We make evangelism an individual endeavor instead of a corporate endeavor.
Here’s the link to the complete article.
Suggestion: Take some time at your next elder meeting and have your elders discuss the article. The book would make for a great adult Sunday School study or a whole church study in small groups.