The Gospel Coalition (TGC) is a group of evangelical Christians from many denominations linking arms for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Since nothing is more central to the Bible and our faith, I resonate with their vision. Every two years they host a national conference and the most recent one was held last week in Orlando. Joe and I had the opportunity to attend.
If I had to pick out one thing that affected me the most, it would have been Ray Ortlund Jr.’s breakout session on “How to Build a Gospel Culture in Your Church.” “Gospel culture” isn’t a term we use all that often. Ortlund means by it “the shared experience of grace for the undeserving.” The gospel concerns the perfect life, atoning death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. A gospel culture is a church conforming to that message. I thought this was one of his best quotes,
Why must our churches preach gospel doctrine and embody gospel culture simultaneously? Because faithfulness to the gospel requires more than doctrinal purity in our churches. But it is possible sincerely to preach true doctrine while, at the same time, utterly deny that doctrine by an ugly anti-gospel culture. Every church culture is communicating something. If a church is not positively communicating the gospel both by what it says and by what it is, then that church risks unsaying by its reality what it is saying by its theory.
Ortlund went on to share the examples of Israel (Isaiah 1:21) and Peter (Galatians 2:11-21) as those who denied by their actions the doctrine that they affirmed.
I thank God that GCC cares about the culture we embody. Ortlund’s words are a good reminder. “Every church culture is communicating something.” In our gathering on Sundays and mid-week, and in our scattering throughout the week, what are we communicating about the grace that has come to us in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ? Are there any ways in which I am un-saying by my actions what I profess to believe? May God continue to help deepen the reality of his truth in the culture of our church.