Reading through the Pastoral letters of the New Testament, I’ve been struck by the fact that if I don’t insist on Gospel-centered doctrine in my church, then I will fail you in at least five ways. If I don’t insist on Gospel-centered doctrine, then…
- The church will devolve into a socially-minded non-profit or a consumeristic Groupon. The gospel of Jesus Christ is what sets the church apart from any other organization or community. If I remove the gospel, or don’t insist on its centrality in everything we do, then you do not need the church. You can find social service outlets with better non-profits and community with Groupon gatherings.
- You will lose a substantial reason for living in community and on mission. Though anyone can experience community and mission outside of the church, it is a gospel-centered church that keeps mission and community from becoming your raison d’etre (reason for being). If community becomes your reason for being, then your community will likely become ingrown, selfish, snobbish, cliquish NOT inclusive, diverse, generous, growing, and vibrant. If mission is your raison d’etre, they mission will eventually become optional or so essential that you will look down on others who aren’t on mission. Only the gospel can call us away from these two extremes because it reminds us that Jesus Christ is our raison d’etre. Bottomline, community and mission will always fail you but Jesus will not. You need a church that reminds you of that.
- I will become unfaithful to what the Bible teaches and misrepresent historic Christianity to you. This is intellectually dishonest, historically unfaithful, and theologically untenable. You need a pastor who does not see doctrine as an end in itself, but that the gospel is the end of every doctrine.
- I will remove the one Person that consistently loves you, satisfies you, beautifies you, and releases you into your created purpose–to glorify God by enjoying him and calling others into a life of spreading that gospel joy over all the earth.
- I will remove the very Person and principle upon which the church was formed–Jesus Christ. Not only is this inconsistent, it is a genetic fallacy, distorting something from its designed purpose, tampering with its DNA.