Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Christ Centered Ministry and the Gospel Coalition

In Worship by the Book, Kent Hughes recounts a story about E.V. Hill, former pastor (now deceased) of Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church.
E.V. told of the ministry of an elderly woman in his church whom they all called “1800” because no one knew how old she was. On unsuspecting preachers “1800” was hard because she would yell, “Get him up!” (she was referring to Christ). After a few minutes of the messages, if she didn’t think it was happening, she would again shout, “Get him up!” If a preacher did not “Get him up!” he was in for a long hard day. Dear old “1800” was no theologian, but her instincts were sublime. True worship exalts Jesus. It cannot fail to “Get him up!” because both testaments lift Him up. There is nothing more important, and more salutary for the church, than Christ-centered worship.
I share this story because it relates to the focus of the conference I attended with Josh Malone (our Pastor of Young Adults) several days ago. The Gospel Coalition is the attempt by an association of pastors and theologians to create impetus toward a gospel centered movement within the church.

This coalition grew, in part, out of the observation that the Evangelical world is highly fragmented. There are those who are clinging to an overly individualistic and overly systematic approach to evangelism/mission and others who are focused upon community and social justice but are living out these values in the context of eroded orthodoxy. This coalition believes there is a third way that can excellently fulfill the values of personal conversion, community formation, and cultural renewal within a context that is both Biblically faithful and culturally relevant.

To some, the idea of a coalition like this appears to be too theological and academic. In response to this, I have come to realize that there is a deep-seated worldview in many of those leading in today’s churches that keeps the church from being missionally effective. This worldview, in many cases, is grounded in some erroneous theological assumptions that were formed through tradition or in some faulty aspect of seminary education. If we try to make changes in the church without addressing the worldview that is grounded in false theological beliefs, then we will continue to hit brick walls in our attempt to bring about needed reformation.

I am very thankful that many of these issues are being wrestled with at Parkview and in the universal church. In the words of “1800” we must not neglect to “Lift him up” in all we do. I believe a gospel centered movement has the potential of ending the gridlock that fragments us and, by God’s grace, helping us to more effectively fulfill God’s mission.

For a more detailed summary of what this movement is about you can check out Josh’s summary on his blog here. The Gospel Coalition site will have conference video/audio and other documentation available by mid-June.


Brian Bailey said...

My comment is not about the posting, which is good and speaks to some crucial stuff. But Scott mentioned E.V. Hill, and I'm reminded that I have an old recording somewhere of E.V. Hill preaching at the funeral of his first wife. Wow. Very inspiring. The man could PREACH, even in the face of personal grief.

Scott Sterner said...

Brian, I think I've heard about E.V.'s message you are referring to. If you ever come across that recording, I'd love to get a copy.

Sara said...

"If we try to make changes in the church without addressing the worldview that is grounded in false theological beliefs, then we will continue to hit brick walls in our attempt to bring about needed reformation."
I really like what you said here...this is so true, both here in the States and on the foreign mission field. The WV is the key factor because our actions essentially flow from our worldview. If we try simply to change the actions, the worldview will not be is the heart of the person. Maybe I just took from that what I was thinking about, but I really appreciate you tackling that. :) Hope you are well...see you in a couple of months! :)