Categories
Theology

The Gospel in a Nutshell

Steve Timmis is the co-founder of The Crowded House, an international group of church planting networks, and the co-director of the Porterbrook Network, an initiative that trains church planters. I just finished listening to his Total Church training audio, and in session one, he defines the gospel. Obviously the gospel is so large and so infinite that it cannot be put into one sentence. Nevertheless, the more ways we can say it biblically and faithfully, the more we will be helpful to people. Timmis says that the gospel is that

Jesus, God’s promised rescuer and ruler, lived our life and died our death and rose again in triumphant vindication as the firstfruits of the new creation to bring forgiven sinners together under his gracious rule.

Timmis admits that this is not meant to summarize the gospel in all its glory. After all, he says, God took the whole Bible–all 66 books–to summarize the gospel. This definition, he argues, simply gets to the heart of what the gospel is, and he spends the first session of his training (in the “audio” link above) unpacking this definition. I encourage you to listen to it.

If you had to give the gospel in a nutshell, what would you say?

Categories
Ministry

For What It’s Worth: Multi-Site Churches

A church can best reach a city when it “goes to the people” rather than expecting the people to come to it.  This means that a church in a metropolitan area should seek to multiply, not by building a bigger building, but by taking new ground for the kingdom through opening up new, smaller gathering places throughout the city.

There is biblical evidence for “multi-site” churches, as Gregg Allison writes about.  In addition to Allison’s blog, notice how Paul speaks to Titus: “This is why I left you in Crete [one church] so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders [plural] in every town [multi-site] as I directed you” (Titus 1:5). It seems that Titus was to serve as a sort of “theological overseer/shepherd” on the island of Crete. Consider, too, that Timothy was charged to lead the church in Ephesus through theological shepherding (1 Tim. 1:3).  Ephesus was one city and no doubt had many sites–which is made clear by Paul’s exhortation to Timothy to keep men from preaching unsound doctrine (1:3-7) and to appoint qualified leaders in Ephesus (3:1-7).

But there is the practical element of reaching as many people as possible that makes a difference as well. All truth is God’s truth, but not all truth is contained in Scripture (advanced physics isn’t in there, neither is English grammar). God has providentially given us wisdom, by his Spirit, and wisdom is always intensely practical.  Here are five practical benefits of multi-site churches:

  • More, smaller facilities are cost-effective (you can find cheaper, even foreclosed, space to buy and remodel).
  • Different “tribes” and “peoples” will be reached (because some people will refuse to drive to the ‘burbs and attend services at the nice, comfy, predominately white church).
  • More intimate fellowship between God’s people (and people will still recognize they are a part of a bigger body and movement, but they won’t get lost in the shuffle–their name and face matter).
  • Ability to focus on reaching particular neighborhoods (cities change when neighborhoods change, not the other way around).
  • Ability to gear non-essential, stylistic issues toward the culture of the neighborhood (e.g. music, etc; as opposed to causing a stink at the “building” where old fogies and young hotheads clash).

How can we reach people and transform a city if we just build bigger buildings? There can be more services, but will we really reach people from 20 miles away in the ghetto with our giant, suburban buildings? Probably not. If churches are to transform cities (as they were expected to do in the New Testament) then we must go to where the people are, and we must keep people on mission in their part of town.  That means if you live in the ghetto, you are on mission there.  If you live in the ‘burbs, it means you are on mission there. If you live in the urban center, you are on mission there. And if you live on the outskirts of town, then you are on mission there.

I realize this is not possible for all churches for a variety of reasons. But it should at least be on the radar and a future goal. If a church isn’t there yet, there should be, by God’s grace, a concerted effort to get there.

What are your thoughts about multi-site churches?

Categories
Life

Staying Word-Centered

Has it really been almost a month since I’ve blogged? I apologize.

Here’s a great paragraph from Total Church by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis about staying word-centered and gospel-centered:

Imagine you are teaching the Bible to a group of young teenagers. Most of them are not taking a bit of notice. You have worked hard to be both true to the text and relevant to the youngsters. But they are just flicking pieces of paper at each other. It might be tempting to play some games to show that Christians can have fun too or to sing more songs so they will encounter God in the music. It is moments like these that we need to hold on to the conviction that God is known and God works through the words of Jesus. Christian ministry must be gospel-centered (p. 24).

Categories
Theology

Acts29 in Africa

Here’s a short video from Mars Hill about church planting in Africa.