Establishing a church culture of “gospel + safety + time” is critical to the church’s health and effectiveness. Why?
Let’s make an assumption. The assumption is this: the more a church is like the way the Bible says a church should be, the healthier and more effective it will be. Or to put it in the form of a question, “What does the Bible say a church should be?” Whatever the answer is to that question should be the definition of “success” and should shape a church’s goals.
I would argue “gospel + safety + time” is what the Scriptures call a church to be. Let me explain.
The Garden of Eden
The Promised Land
The New Heavens and the New Earth
What do these have in common? They were, are, or will be the dwelling place of God. Space prohibits me from unpacking this in detail, but the dwelling place of God is one of the unifying themes in the Bible. In other words, there are overlapping ideas and concepts contained within each of them; similarities they all share.
Therefore, the church is meant to be a harbinger of the new heavens and new earth. When people experience the community of people called ‘the church’ they should be given a taste of the new heavens and the new earth. Read that last sentence again...
I don’t think the church can be a harbinger of the new heavens and the new earth if any one of those three are missing. Can the church be a harbinger of the new heavens and the new earth if there is safety and time, but no gospel? Can the church be a harbinger of the new heavens and the new earth if there is gospel and time, but no safety? You get the point.
“Gospel + safety + time" aren’t arbitrary concepts pulled from thin air. They are rooted in the Scripture’s blueprint for what God intended the church to be.
What does your church offer?
When someone asks that question, they’re usually asking about what programs and ministries the church has to offer. Now churches should be able to tell people about the various ministries that occur each week, but it would be really cool to see a different first response to that question...
“Well…we offer lots of gospel, lots of safety, and lots of time."
One of my desires for Alliance Bible Church is to see us establish a culture of "gospel + safety + time." Ray Ortlund Jr. defines each of them like this:
People need multiple exposures to the happy news of the gospel from one end of the Bible to the other.
People need the safety of non-accusing sympathy so they can admit their problems honestly.
People need plenty of time to rethink their lives at a deep level because people are complex and changing isn’t easy.
Imagine being part of a church where “gospel + safety + time” has taken root. What would that experience be like? Over the next few weeks, I’m going camp on this subject and unpack in more detail each of these and why they are so important.
I am really looking forward to seeing Andrew Peterson in concert here at Alliance Bible Church. He is a down-to-earth and thought-provoking artist whose music is refreshing to the heart. For those wondering, the concert is Friday, November 18 at 7:30pm. Tickets are available for purchase here or at Alliance Bible Church.
Below is a moving music video on the topic of marriage. It's worth 3 1/2 minutes of your time. Enjoy!