When Paul said: “let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly,” he was not commending personal Bible study. This text is often misinterpreted as a command for private Bible reading. We read ourselves into the text as if it said: “dwell in the Word of Christ,” which is important, but not what Paul is saying. Rather, he says “let the Word of Christ dwell in you.” And “you” is plural.
We could translate it: “Let the Gospel dwell in the church.” In Colossians 1:5 the “word of truth” is “the gospel”, which dwells in the community, takes center stage. And the community comes together over and over again to gather around the Gospel, the Word of Christ. This should change your life, your community. It should change the way you prepare mentally to attend a small group or missional community gathering. Instead of going begrudgingly, dutifully, or to get something, we should drive to CG looking for an opportunity to give and receive the gospel to one another.
We all have a responsibility to teach one another the gospel. To share Christ in community. So next time you are on your way to CG gathering, change your expectation and expect to give and receive the gospel, to be taught by one another about Jesus, who is the head of our body, and the center of your community. This means you read, meditate, and pray as an individual so that you can be a blessing to the community. Huddle around Jesus not your needs, your demands. Lets come together, Sundays, CGs, throughout the week ready to give and receive Christ to one another. Repent from a mindset of convenience and have faith in Christ for a mindset of grace. Let’s come together to forgive, love and to teach one another about Jesus.
I finished Unbelievable Gospel: Sharing a Gospel Worth Believing last night. It drops next week as an eBook in the new eBook store at www.gospelcentereddiscipleship.com. I wrote this booklet to help people rethink evangelism. Here’s a taste:
Most of us share an unbelievable gospel. We cough up memorized information about Jesus that has little apparent meaning for life. If we’re honest, we don’t exactly know how Jesus is good news for others; we just believe he is. The problem with this is that non-Christians don’t share the “advantage” of mindless belief. “Just believe in Jesus,” we say, but what we tell them is so unbelievable! In their bad news, they can’t conceive how a dying Jewish messiah could be good news to them. Alternatively, their best news seems to trump our good news. This is where our calling to “do the work of an evangelist” comes in (2 Tim 4:5).
The workplace crusaders and angry street preachers who campaign to convert co-workers to their doctrine or recruit bystanders to their politics are also unbelievable. Even the well-intentioned evangelical who looks to get Jesus off his chest and into conversation is unbelievable. Too many Christians look to clear their evangelistic conscience by simply mentioning the name of Jesus or saying that he died on the cross for sins. Saying Jesus’ name in conversation earns us a check. Mentioning what Jesus did (on the cross) earns us a check +. This performance-based approach to evangelism is incredible because it fails to embody the truth we preach. Dismissing people’s struggles, fears, hopes, and reasons for unbelief, we plow onward with our name-dropping. This is unbelievable.
Sharing the Gospel
This is a book on evangelism, though I struggle to use that word because of all its baggage. More importantly, it is about the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel is both bigger and smaller than we think. Sometimes we can’t imagine the scope of the gospel, as news so good that it changes everything—society, culture, and creation. People really need to hear this. This vision of reality is better than anyone can imagine. The good news of the gospel is better than the best news people can conceive. Others times, we can’t imagine the subtlety of the gospel, that it brings us exactly what we need in Christ: acceptance, approval, forgiveness, newness, healing, worth, purpose, joy, hope, peace, and freedom, all in Jesus. The gospel is bigger and smaller than we think, as big as the cosmos and as small as you and me. It is the good and true news that Jesus has defeated sin, death, and evil through his own death and resurrection and is making all things new, even us! I have limited the scope of this book to the smaller expression of the gospel. It is mainly practical, focusing on how we can better communicate the gospel better to others. True to the original meaning of evangelism, this book is about how we herald the good news of Jesus Christ.
I am finishing up a new eBook on the topic of sharing the gospel.
The goal of the book is to help people understand how they should and should not share their faith with others. All too often, Christians share their faith in ways that are off putting to people, making them feel inferior, un-spiritual, or like a pet project. Other Christians don’t share their faith for some of the very same reasons–they don’t want to be preachy, intolerant, or proselytizing. All of this needs to be addressed, some affirming and some challenging. Plus, we need a new way to talk about the gospel with others. Simply downloading “Jesus died on the cross for your sins” or dropping the name of Jesus isn’t enough.
People need to hear (and see) a believable gospel, one that is worth believing in their own lives, one that makes sense of their real challenges, hopes, fears, and concerns. My hope is that this book will do all of that in fifty pages: address why we shouldn’t and how we should share the gospel of Jesus with others.
With this brief explanation in mind, would you help me with the title? Here are some options:
Al Tizon (Ph.D) is associate professor of holistic ministry at Palmer Theological Seminary and author of Missional Preaching. Heis also the director of Word & Deed Network of the Evangelicals for Social Action.
Preaching as Mission
Missional Preaching is broken into two parts: Essentials of Missional Preaching (theology) and The Goals of Missional Preaching (practice). The first part is nicely done. Tizon provides a concise theology of missional church addressing the missio Dei, a biblical theology of mission, which culminates in the teleology of mission–worship. It is clear that Tizon has a grasp of missiology, providing ample footnotes and clarifying detail, e.g. Karl Barth did not coin the Missio Dei. Throughout he emphasizes the important role of preaching, not our methodology, in the mission of the church. Tizon concludes:
We preach with the aim to make disciples. We preach to cultivate a church of missional worshippers and worshipping missionaries.
In this section, he borrows from Marva Dawn’s idea that “preaching should kill us.” A provocative thought. It should put to death the old self whose incessant pursuit of comfort disrupts worshipful discipleship. Preaching should, of course, also bring us life. His emphasis on the integrity of the preacher is also sharp. We should live what we preach. However, the gospel also exists for the preacher because no preacher can live everything he or she preaches with perfection. Preachers need Jesus too.
Goals of Preaching
This section charts a course for missional preaching by setting 7 Goals and providing sermon examples along the way, a great idea. The seven goals are:
Preaching for Inculturation
Preaching for Alternative Community
Preaching for Holistic Transformation
Preaching for Justice and Reconciliation
Preaching for Whole-Life Stewardship
Preaching for Shalom
Preaching the Scandal of Jesus
This book will challenge the preacher to live the message. It will push the boundaries of many. The example sermons include men and women, pastors and non-pastors, and a diversity of voices (primarily from the evangelical left). It would have been nice to see examples from some of the preaching greats of our time, and how they do or do not fit into Tizon’s theology and goals. Moreover, it would have also been nice to see how “missional preaching” compares with “Christ-centered preaching”. Tizon clearly adores Jesus and wants preachers to preach from their love of God in Christ. More attention to this would have been nice. Nevertheless, this book can serve as a helpful stretch to those who prefer to preach theologically, while leaving missional preaching to one or two Sundays a year. It is also helpful to give missional direction for any preacher, noting categories and goals for sermons. A missional preaching Evaluation Form is even included at the back.