Center Church is organized into three sections: Gospel, City, and Movement.
The first section Gospel includes first two parts of the book: Gospel Theology and Gospel Renewal.
Gospel Renewal contains three chapters:
4. The Need for Gospel Renewal
5. The Essence of Gospel Renewal
6. The Work of Gospel Renewal
Definitions of Renewal
1. Revival as the adding of the extraordinary operations of the Holy Spirit (such as miracles, healings, and revelations).
2. Revival as a vigorous season of preaching, gatherings, and evangelistic activity.
3. Revival is an intensification of the normal operations of the Spirit (conviction of sin, regeneration and sanctification, assurance of grace) through the ordinary means of grace (preaching the Word, prayer, and the sacraments) – balanced definition.
- Gospel Renewal is a life-changing recovery of the gospel.
- Personal gospel renewal means the gospel doctrines of sin and grace are actually experienced, not just known intellectually.
- Corporate gospel renewal – what has sometimes been called “revival” – is a season in which a whole body of believers experience personal renewal together.
- Revivals and renewals are necessary because the default mode of the human heart is works-righteousness – we do not ordinarily live as if the gospel is true.
- In revival, the ordinary means of grace produce a great wave of newly awakened inquirers, soundly converted sinners, and spiritually renewed believers.
- Revivals are unbiblical and “modern.”
- Revivals encourage emotional excesses and fanaticism.
- Revivals split families and undermined established churches.
- Stressing conversation and revival undermines churches’ ability to instruct and disciple their members.
- Participation in church comes to be viewed as optional, since salvation comes directly through personal faith and experience.
- Emotional experience is placed above doctrinal soundness and holiness of life.
- The individual is privileged at the expense of the community, so every Christian becomes his or her own spiritual authority, and there is no true accountability.
- The debate continues as the perils of unbalanced revivalism are still apparent in the church
- Our truth-allergic, experience-addicted populace wants transformation but doesn’t want the loss of freedom and control associated with submitting to authority within a committed community.
- Many critics in reaction to revivalism deny the basic principles of revival: calling people to conversion if they are in the church and personal experience with Christ.
– Gospel renewal fits our times.
- The church-centric (traditional) model broke down as people became increasingly mobile and society slowly but surely became more pluralistic.
- No one really inherits their belief systems as they once did.
- People actively choose among competing sets of beliefs and worldviews and must be persuaded through personal appeals to do so.
- This state of affairs demands the revivalist emphasis on persuasion, conversion, and individual self-examination.
– Gospel renewal focuses on the heart.
- Revivalism’s core insight – that salvation is a matter of the heart – has ample grounding in the Bible.
- Our heart is the center of our personality, the seat of our fundamental commitments, the control center of the whole person.
- What is in the heart determines what we think, do, and feel – since mind, will, and emotions are all rooted there.
- Saving faith is never less than intellectual assent, but it is always more than that.
- Gospel renewal does not simply seek to convert nominal church members; it also insists that all Christians – even committed ones – need the Spirit to bring the gospel home to their hearts for deepened experience of Christ’s love and power.
- Unbalanced revivalism indeed undermines the work of the established church. But balanced revivalism – a commitment to corporate and individual gospel renewal through ordinary means of grace – is the work of the church.
- Revivalist ministry emphasizes conversion and spiritual renewal, not only for those outside the church, but also for those inside the church.
NEXT: The Essence of Gospel Renewal