Do You Use “Gospel” as an Adjective More Often than a Noun?

Eric McKiddie
Eric McKiddie

Did you know that you can make anything gospel-centered just by adding the word “gospel” in front of it?

There is contextualization. But then there’s gospel contextualization.

There is church growth. But then there’s gospel growth.

There are the arts. But then there are gospel arts.

Gospel centrality has morphed from a movement to a culture. And cultures have their own languages. Gospel-centered pastors tend to have a gospel language.

This is a good thing, by the way. It’s a sign that pastors and churches want to be driven by biblical doctrine instead of people-focused motives.

It’s also helpful. It’s much easier to say “gospel contextualization” than “contextualizing for the sake of spreading the gospel of Jesus, since the Son contextualized himself to us through the incarnation.”

But, like many good things, the language of gospel centrality comes with its own potholes and roadblocks. If we don't steer clear of them, we will fail to make progess in our ministries.

Hear are just a few potholes to avoid when using "gospel" as an adjective, off the top of my head:

1. We might team up with the wrong guys. Do other pastors who speak the gospel-centered lingo easily impress you? A pastor's gospel vocabulary may be nothing more than flames painted on the side of a Honda Civic. Peak under the hood to see if there really is gospel-centered horsepower driving his ministry.

2. We might fail to clearly communicate to our congregation. Do they know what you mean when you talk about “gospel contextualization”? Most of them probably don’t check the TGC site for new articles every day. The labels aren’t bad, but they are ambiguous. Define them as you use them.

3. We might get more caught up with gospel articulation, rather than articulating the gospel. What I mean is that we could spend more time making sure we are clearly communicating our gospel centrality than actually communicating the gospel. Don’t let the idea of gospel centrality take the place of the One who the gospel is about.

There’s more I could list. There’s more you could list.

The point is, as we endeavor to the make the gospel of Jesus Christ the main thing in our ministries, let’s do so in a gospel-centered way. Not a gospel-centered-centered way.

Originally published August 07, 2013.