The Send Network Church Planting Blog

5 Tests to Determine if Your Church Is Truly Gospel-Centered: Part 4

August 17, 2012 by J.D. Greear
The following is part four of a five-part summation of a message given by J.D. Greear to local pastors and church leaders at the Advance the Church spring regional, 2012. The link to the full audio is below. Acts 2:41–47 gives us five "tests" of gospel-centrality. If we are preaching the Spirit-anointed gospel, these five things will be the result in our churches, just as they were in the very first one.

4. Gospel-centered churches are characterized by empowered members (Acts 8:1; 28:15).

A stubborn theme throughout the book of Acts is that God's most effective vehicles are “regular” people. Consider these facts from Acts: Thirty-nine of the 40 miracles in the book of Acts occur outside the walls of the “church,” in the workplace. The longest sermon in Acts is by Stephen, a layman. That sermon led to the most significant spiritual moment in Acts, the conversion of Saul (Paul). Acts 8:1 notes that when persecution rose up against the church, the church was scattered around the world preaching the gospel. But note that Luke tells you this worldwide fulfillment of Acts 1:8 did not include the apostles. These anonymous Christians were so effective in ministry that when Paul showed up in Rome to preach the gospel “where Christ had never been named,” he was greeted by “the brothers” (Acts 28:15).
 Church leaders who understand that gospel won't try to build their church around a handful of mega-talented superstars, but rather dedicate themselves to empowering and releasing the church for ministry
  Early church historian Stephen Neill notes that the anonymity of the major gospel movements in the ancient world is breathtaking: "But in point of fact few, if any, of the great churches were really founded by apostles. Nothing is more notable than the anonymity of these early missionaries … Luke does not turn aside to mention the name of a single one of those pioneers who laid the foundation. Peter and Paul may have organized the Church in Rome. They certainly did not found it …" (History of Christian Missions, 22). This flows from the very nature of the gospel. The gospel is not about recognizing the gifted, but about gifting the unrecognized. Church leaders who understand that gospel won't try to build their church around a handful of mega-talented superstars, but rather dedicate themselves to empowering and releasing the church for ministry (Eph. 4:11-13). They become committed to raising up other leaders. They judge their success not so much by seating capacity but sending capacity. Here is the link to the full talk.   J.D. Greear is the lead pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh, North Carolina and author of the new book GOSPEL: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary.

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