Every once in a while, I get a comment that I (or we at Pantano) don’t talk about the gospel or at least don’t focus on it enough. I find that interesting because we actually plan to share at least parts of the gospel in every weekend service. The word “gospel’ means good news. It is the good news that God has responded in love through Jesus to our spiritual needs.
There are a lot of significant aspects to the gospel: Jesus came, Jesus died for our sins, Jesus rose from the dead and is alive, God offers grace and multiple chances, he loves and seeks the lost, we have total forgiveness in Jesus, he offers us new life now and for eternity, God adopted us as his very own children, he has come to live and dwell in us and so much more. There is SO much to the good news that a few words or ideas can’t capture the depth and beauty of God’s gift to us.
When I teach on Sundays, I always intentionally find ways to share at least some of the gospel. If you are looking for it, it is always there. So, that’s actually my challenge to you – look for the fresh ways I (we) share the gospel. I try not to only use “church” language that folks who don’t know the Bible or who rarely attend church might find difficult to understand. I try to communicate the gospel in ways that reach where folks actually are. I see every Sunday service as an opportunity to mention that in Jesus our sins are forgiven, and to remind us of God’s love and grace, but say it different ways like this: God is for us, he is with us, and he never gives up on us.
Sometimes I’ll spend a whole message on just one part of the process of responding to the gospel. Back on March 25th, I did a message in our “Bad Ink” series on repentance. “Bad ink” was a way to talk about our sin and God’s grace. Repentance is one aspect of how we respond to the gospel. Knowing that many folks don’t really get the idea of repentance, I spent the whole message focusing on it. If you missed it, you can watch it here.
Approximately once a month we offer invitations for folks to be baptized. In the message the week we offer an invitation, we always share a significant part of the gospel message.
And, every week we practice communion. The very core to the communion experience is the gospel. When we take the bread and grape juice we are proclaiming the very heart of the gospel.
My point is that the gospel is at the heart of all we are and do at Pantano. We don’t exist without the good news. We have no hope without it. We have no motivation to fulfill our mission of “Loving People to Jesus” apart from it. But the good news is alive and fresh, so it may not sound how it was communicated years ago or how it is talked about in other churches. The core meaning never changes, but how we communicate it must be new, fresh and appealing for every generation.
Paul wrote the book of Romans to give what became a 16 chapter explanation of the gospel. I love how he sets up that book in Romans 1:16-17 – For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes…“The righteous will live by faith.”