8 Hallmarks of Attractional and Gospel-Centered Churches

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Jared Wilson:

Went on a bit of a Twitter run yesterday with some thoughts on the essential defining characteristics of the church model I call attractional, followed by some constructive alternative hallmarks of gospel-centered churches. Hopefully they will bring more clarity to thinking through the relevant issues in evangelical ecclesiology. These are important times to get this sorted.

Unfortunate hallmarks of the attractional church:

1) Sermons driven by what Christian Smith calls “moralistic therapeutic deism”

2) Functional ideology of pragmatism. (Not “what’s biblical?” but “what works?”)

3) Truncating of the gospel or relegation of the gospel to background/afterthought

4) Equation of bigness with success, contrary to numerous biblical examples otherwise

5) Treating membership solely or mainly as a means of assimilating volunteers

6) Wide open back door for those needing to be discipled beyond conversion

7) Reduction of the Bible to a source for good quotes

8) Claiming relevance/innovation while insulating from critical challenges to assumptions.

Hallmarks of gospel-centered churches:

1) Trust not just in authority of Scripture but sufficiency of Scripture

2) Sermons that emphasize “It is finished!” over “Get to work!”. Jesus is the star, not a bit player

3) Meaningful membership encompassing whole-life discipleship, pastoral care, and church discipline

4) Emphasis on members as missionaries & emphasizing “go and tell” over “come and see”

5) A total trust in the gospel to be the power of transformation that no amount of inspiration can be

6) Regular commitment to the Lord’s Supper

7) Reliance on robustness of the gospel to apply to the believer, justification & sanctification

8) Church as community of saints, not merely a worship service or resource center for programs

(I’ve expanded on all this stuff and a lot more — and offer some constructive correctives — in The Prodigal Church)

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I am currently serving churches and colleges as a bible teacher, overseas and in the UK.