The Gospel and the Local Congregation

After the Christmas and New Year's holidays I plan on preaching a series of messages concerning the centrality of the Gospel in the life of the church. I was challenged, therefore, when I read the following post from Ligon Duncan.

One of the things I had the pleasure of chatting with Al Mohler about when I was in Louisville Friday last week was the evangel, the Gospel itself. I think that all the particpants in T4G share a passion that local congregations of Christians would be characterized by a Gospel culture, a Gospel-sharing culture, a culture of evangelism.

By that I mean: [1] that your whole congregation would be able to articulate the Gospel, personally, in a compelling and understandable way; [2] that your whole congregation would understand the importance and necessity of their lives, their prayers and their participation in Gospel witness; [3] that your whole congregation would deeply care about conversions (and I would lay stress here, that we are talking about real conversions, not numbers; disciples, not decisions; changed lives, not merely prayed prayers); [4] that your whole congregation would earnestly and regularly pray for conversions, talks about their own conversions and the conversions of others, and put a priority on people coming to know God; and [5] that your whole congregation would be excited about the Gospel itself, and not simply about a method of sharing the Gospel, or a training program.

To this end in my own congregation, it was my joy this last autumn to spend thirteen weeks of Wednesday nights, meeting with about 115 of our members, in what we called "The Gospel Course." The aim of our study in the Gospel Course was (among other things), to provide participants with: (1) a fuller understanding of the Gospel; (2) an opportunity to hone and articulate their Christian testimony; (3) an opportunity to be instructed in, observe and engage in Gospel conversations; (4) a simple, biblical, outline of the Gospel; (5) encouragements and helps to share (or more effectively share) the Gospel; (6) an opportunity to help better the evangelism equipping of our congregation; (7) the opportunity to see how all pastors of the church are involved in gospel witness; and (8) encouragement and instruction on how to engage others in the church in this Gospel culture.