What Is The Mission of The Church? – Kevin DeYoung & Greg Gilbert
I want to be honest and disclose some information before I start this review. I have been waiting for a book just like this for some time. You see I love the Gospel. It is what drives me, and it is what motivates me. I also have to admit that there was a brief time in my life that I got really into the whole social gospel/social justice movement. Quickly though I began to see it as empty and shallow and lacking the meat of Christianity. I should also go on to say that as a preaching pastor I have said from the pulpit that the social gospel has led us to send many people well fed and warm further along the road to hell, because social gospel – the real gospel is no gospel at all. There is a reason that Peter says to the beggar at the gate beautiful that “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” Acts 3:6. Instead of giving alms and giving what this man thought he needed, John and Peter give this man the hope that is only found in Christ. That is the Gospel. The Gospel is the good news that Jesus Christ came and redeemed us from our sinful state through the Cross.
The Gospel is what this remarkable book by DeYoung & Gilbert is all about as well. The church in America and really worldwide is in the middle of a loud cacophony as to what is our mission. There are so many voices and so many ideas. It is sometimes hard to decipher what is the best, what is the right mission for us. That is where these two pastors faithfully speak truth and clarity into that dissonance. I was excited to read this book, and then several days before it arrived in the mail my excitement grew as I read through several negative reviews of the book and wondered why it was stirring such passion.
The book stirred passion in me as well, but positive passion. It seemed most of the negative reviews centered around the idea that DeYoung & Gilbert were deemphasizing social justice and the need for it. I never saw that in the book. In fact I saw the opposite. I saw the two authors say there is a need for more justice, or love as they prefer to call it, and I do like that term better as well. They point out the Biblical evidence for this need. They do nothing to lessen its importance in the lives of individual Christians.
What they do though is to bring more clarity to what the church should be about, and that is the Gospel. Our mission as a church is to go and seek the lost (Luke 19:10), to make disciples (Matthew 28:20), be witnesses to Jesus (Acts 1:8), and that means testifying to the crucifixion and resurrection. As the church our mission is the Gospel and anything that sidetracks us from that is not right.
I would hate to think what these negative reviews would do to some of my sermons where I have stated that anything taking us away from the Gospel message of the Cross is a sin. DeYoung & Gilbert never go that strongly with their language, rather they faithfully and humbly point out what we should be about as a church. In doing so they remove the need for a lot of the guilt inducing campaigns we are subjected to as believers. Give money here, go here to build a house, serve in this mission or ministry, only buy this product and not other brands. Many of those campaigns are good and can bring glory to God. However, as the authors point out, we should serve and give as God leads, not as others coerce.
I know this book will continue to stir debate, however I pray it stirs more dialogue and discussion and that it brings us back to the center of what is the main thing. I urge you to read this book and to do so with an open mind. You might not agree with the authors but listen to their Biblical proofs and be persuaded by the God of the Gospel.