The gospel saves us from sin and death toward something: unity with God, unity with His people, and the ministry of reconciliation that the gospel of Jesus offers. In other words, Jesus calls us to Himself, to His community, and to His restorative mission. The gospel is the starting place, the cause for the gathering and scattering of His people on mission.
I’ve never been around a community that was centered on the gospel that wasn’t on mission. A gospel-centered people is a missional people. I’ve never been around a community that loves one another that doesn’t have Jesus at the middle of everything they do. A gospel- focused people is a missional community. As Jesus transforms us, we are witnesses to it in public, with friends, at work, and in our homes. The gospel makes us, as Paul says, ministers and messengers of reconciliation. God makes His appeal to the world through us! God’s mission of reconciliation goes through gospel community—also known as the Church.
If the truth of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection isn’t woven into the fabric of everything a community does, it has no purpose outside of its own will to make its city better. Without the gospel at the center, the community has no reason to endure and bear all things together other than its consumeristic pursuit of ideal community. This is no different in the city.
Our cities need the gospel to be made visible and audible. This is certainly done on Sunday mornings in worship services throughout the city. However, it is just as crucial that the gospel becomes pervasive in the city through God’s scattered people. The city needs gospel communities on mission nestled into every crack of the city.
Our cities need communities of people who are learning to follow Jesus together in a way that renews their city, town, village, hamlet, or other space. They don’t need fancy community. In fact, missional communities are always a messy collection of everyday citizens who are devoted to Jesus, to one another, to their neighbors, and their city.
This means they invest in each others’ lives, calling one another to repent and behold Christ daily. A missional community reorients their activity to center not on themselves but on Christ. They struggle forward as in-process sinners redeemed by the unconditional and infinite grace of God. They share meals, step humbly into the injustice in their city, welcome others into community, and take care of each other.
We seek to establish thriving communities because we long to see our cities renewed. I pray to see every nook, cranny, and neighborhood filled with life and restoration. Not simply restoration on the outside (with better schools, better housing, better inclusion of all into the thriving culture of a city, and better culture) but restoration on the inside (whole people, present with God, walking with Him in every arena of life, sharing in our love for God, loving one another, and loving our city).
I’m certain that if our cities knew and experienced the power and grace of the gospel, everything would change.
What would look different if your city knew and experienced the power and grace of the gospel?
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