Sunday, August 21, 2005

The Deliberate Church

A few years ago David Gibson wrote about Assumed Evangelicalism. He identified a problem. A serious problem. In essence, the absence of the "functional centrality of the gospel". That is to say, the church in its various forms assenting to the importance of the gospel, but practically not having it central to what happens.

Rick Warren's bestseller The Purpose Driven Church has helped us to see that it matters what is driving our church. But, has it put the gospel at the centre, functionally? Does it drive our theology? Does it drive our practice? Mark Dever and Paul Alexander's forthcoming book - The Deliberate Church looks like it might provide some assistance in this. The book reportedly builds upon Mark Dever's excellent work with 9 Marks Ministries.

We cannot merely "assume" the gospel.
"You may have heard the story of the Mennonite Brethren movement. One particular analysis goes like this: the first generation believed and proclaimed the gospel and thought that there were certain social entailments. The next generation assumed the gospel and advocated the entailments. The third generation denied the gospel and all that were left were the entailments" David Gibson, citing Don Carson.
As Gibson warned us, the gospel, the glorious good news about Jesus must be functionally central to the life of the church. Now, Dever & Alexander ask us:
"Does the Gospel enjoy functional centrality in your church? Why
or why not? Are there ways in which your current model of ministry
might siphon off the glory of the Gospel for itself? How so?
Read an extract (PDF 448KB)


  1. Good word. I would also say that the Gospel is inherently Trinitarian, but where is this concept in our worship? When is the last time you heard a sermon on the Trinity?

  2. Would it be perverse of me to say in reply that my Dad preached on the Trinity a couple of times recently? He had been reading Bob Letham's book, Holy Trinity (2004) which inspired him to do so. But I agree with your comment that it's usually lacking, although it's essential.

    The Deliberate Church looks very good, and I shall seek to read it esp as I'm trying to think more about the church at the moment. It would be coming out just after I leave the country though wouldn't it?

  3. Too weird - I was just reading David Gibson's article last night; I turned it up when searching for Carson's quote...