The Gospel Coalition has an excellent article by Tim Keller about the difference between individual church growth and a gospel movement. The article notes that “When churches grow, they typically do so by drawing believers out of less vital churches.” What is really going on is “Christian reconfiguration.” A gospel movement is “an ecosystem that is empowered and blessed by God’s Spirit” consisting of:
- A way of communicating and embodying the gospel that is contextualized to the city’s culture and is fruitful in converting and discipling its people, a shared commitment to communicating the gospel to a particular place in a particular time.
- The second layer is a number of church multiplication movements producing a set of new and growing churches, each using the effective means of ministry within their different denominations and traditions.
- A third ring consisting of a complex of specialty ministries, institutions, networks, and relationships. This includes prayer, evangelism, justice & mercy ministries, faith and work initiatives and fellowships, training and finally, unusual unity of Christian city leaders.
The subtext of CBMC, is that we strive to be a “Movement of Men” bringing the gospel to business and professional men, and providing training to enable them to carry out the Great Commission. We are part of the “third ring” of ministries that aims to support regional gospel movements. The article concludes: “When all of these ecosystems elements are strong and in place, they stimulate and increase one another and the movement becomes self-sustaining.”
This article is an excerpt from Tim Keller’s new book, Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City, released by Zondervan.