NASHVILLE, Tenn. – J.D. Greear believes the future of the church is bright because of the gospel. But the Southern Baptist Convention president also noted the church can be susceptible to placing secondary things – like programs, strategies and messages – above the gospel.
Greear aims to steer the attention and allegiance of the church back to the gospel through his latest book, "Above All: The Gospel Is the Source of the Church's Renewal," available June 1 from B&H Publishing Group. "Gospel Above All" is also the theme for the SBC annual meeting in Birmingham, Ala., June 11-12.
As pastor of The Summit Church in the Raleigh-Durham, N.C., area, Greear says the centrality of the gospel in the local church's preaching, teaching and ministries is "severely out of alignment."
He says in order for the church to place the gospel at the center of all they do, it's crucial for Christians to remember who they are.
"Particularly, for evangelicals, we've been a gospel people," he said. "We've been known for it, but over the last few decades, there are other things that have begun to compete with the gospel in the centrality of our ministries and our witness.
"As a pastor, I realize I only have bandwidth to be known for a few things," he said. "And I want that bandwidth to be taken up by the gospel."
In "Above All," Greear addresses several ways the church – corporately and as individuals – can make strides in making the gospel the foundation for every aspect of their lives. Whether talking about the mission of the church, the culture around us or individual preferences, Greear calls Christians to place the gospel as the top priority.
"It's easier to turn to leadership techniques or political strategies," Greear said, when it comes to carrying our ministry and reaching the world with the gospel. "These are good things, but none of them can replace the centrality of the gospel as our focus of ministry. The gospel is what unites us and moves us in mission."
Through "Above All" Greear also aims to repudiate the notion that the gospel did its great work in the past.
"Martin Luther said the progress in Christian life is always to begin again," Greear said. "Any progress we make in the Kingdom of God is going to come back to beginning again in the gospel."
And making the gospel central he said, demands not only starting over, but looking ahead.
"There are some amazing things God wants to do today," Greear said.
"I'm convinced the greatest movement of the Spirit of God is right in front of us; not behind us.... There are 4,300-plus unreached people groups in the world, so the greatest movement of the Holy Spirit has to be in front of us. History isn't going to end until they've heard. And I want to be a part of that."
For more information, visit GospelAboveAllBook.com.
Written by Baptist Press, the official news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.