Making The Gospel Unignorable In Our City
“I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe.” Romans 1:16
Our city is sometimes referred to as the city of churches. Houston has so many churches in it that we are deemed the king of churched cities. The suburban region of Houston is the most populated with churches of all. Everywhere you go there is a church. The question is not, “do you go to church?” but “where do you go to church?”
My wife and I fully understood this in 2012 when we felt the call to plant a church in the suburbs of Houston. Many church planting pastors reminded me that we had decided to plant in the graveyard of church-plants; also known as “where church planters go to die.
Apart from God’s sovereign call, there is no way we would have continued. It was a death sentence.
I grappled back then with what I just now feel I have the ability to articulate well.
What will motivate us? What will keep us when it is hard?
Answer: Romans 1:16.
We realized early on that the issue with our city was not hatred towards God, but mere indifference toward him at all. It isn’t that people were particularly angered at the idea of God (although there were some), but instead most were content with what little they knew of God
A cursory, shallow, indefinable version of God was enough for them. As long as God didn’t disturb them, there didn’t seem to be a reason to be strolling up his front lawn either. Let’s not rock the boat here.
We knew from the onset that our method had to be ruthless. A passionate, consistent, presentation of the gospel of Jesus Christ every chance we got. I am not talking about track bombing. I am talking about a real, tangible, living, breathing, community of changed people living on purpose.
In word and in deed we had to make the gospel central.
Even though we knew that from the outset, it wasn’t until recently that I have been able to articulate that mission.
Making the gospel unignorable in our city
It is the indifference that Providence is called to erase; the apathy and lethargy built into the very fabric of our community.
(To be clear, there are many other brothers and sisters and faithful churches laboring for the same greater cause. Yet, it is my responsibility to articulate Providence’s distinct part to play in His story.)
Our words, our deeds, our gifts, our money, our time, our talents, our lives, our families and all that we have must be leveraged to make the gospel a fork in the road and not merely a signpost.
Jesus stands forth in the gospel as a herald of truth, commanding allegiance. A king with a kingdom does not request consideration, but demands response. The cross of Christ is not to be trifled with. It is a drastic act of sacrifice and the gospel is a story that has strong implications on human history and future.
It cannot be merely shared.
The gospel is the power of God. It is the only sword the church can wield against the fiery dragon of indifference. I am not funny, intelligent, or winsome enough to break the ice that has hardened the hearts of men and women.
I know a hip pastor did not win my heart over and so why should I expect to change the script for anyone else?
Jesus changes us. Jesus molds us. Jesus justifies us. Jesus sanctifies us. Jesus will ultimately take us home. Our goal must be to place Jesus on display to a watching world and let him work.
We make the gospel unignorable by publicizing what has so long been privatized.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16
Love God. Love people. Do this every day, as God strengthens you. When you fail, rejoice that Christ has died in order to forgive your failure. Repent of your sin, look to Christ in faith, and love God and love people some more. As you practice walking this way, a watching world will see light in darkness.
Maybe by God’s grace we can erase the indifference and make the gospel unignorable.
Let’s be honest, who can ignore a fire in the dark?