In his book, The Disciple-Making Church, author Glen MacDonald tells of a leadership meeting at the church where he attended. The meeting was running long. It was late in the evening, but things were starting to wind down. The question was asked, “Does anyone have anything else?” Everyone knows the answer to that question. It’s an emphatic, “No,” because everyone is ready to go home. But this particular night, one gentleman could not help himself. To everyone’s dismay, he said, “I have a question.” The question was this: “How long do you think it would take for someone visiting our church to hear about their need for Christ and then how to act upon it?” That, my friends, is a church-changing question.
Sadly, too many of our churches have become “issues” focused. They spend an exorbitant amount of time talking about what everyone else is doing wrong instead of making and growing disciples. Others have become consumer-driven and cater to the masses while ignoring Biblical precedent . There are those churches that have immersed themselves in a cultural movement or cause, yet have lost sight of the goal in the process. It’s not that certain issues are unimportant, but they should never define your church. If the only thing people know about your church is that you let women lead a prayer or that you oppose instrumental music in worship or that you have an incredible children’s program, then that’s a problem. If all we ever do is bang the drum and pat ourselves on the back for standing against error, then that’s a problem. If a church is so numbers-driven that they become more concerned about rear-ends in the pew than souls in the kingdom, then that’s a problem.
A church can be about a lot of things, but if its primary focus is not Jesus and the gospel, then it’s not a scriptural church (Mt. 28:18-20; See 2 Cor. 5:18-20). The Lord’s church is defined by the MAN and the MESSAGE. This doesn’t mean that we toss doctrine aside. Quite the contrary. It’s the teachings of Jesus that shape who we are (Jn. 14:15). But, all too often, we zero in on being right at the expense of being Christ-like. Truth is paramount to who we are and what we’re about. However, preaching the truth in love is a means to an end, and that end is making and growing disciples.
What should be shaping your church is a love for God and a love for people. And not just church people. All people. That’s what it means to be a gospel-shaped church.