Recasting the Gospel in Kingdom Language
As we teach ministry leaders about Jesus’ discipleship gospel through The Bonhoeffer Project, we have observed how difficult it is for people to recast their understanding of the gospel in terms of God’s kingdom. While God’s kingdom is essential to Jesus’ gospel, they have understood the gospel for so long without it. As we state in The Discipleship Gospel, it’s a rare thing in our day to hear the gospel preached with God’s kingdom included.
This is an excerpt from The Discipleship Gospel (available in eBook and paperback). Get a discount by using code ‘TBP’ at checkout when you order here.
As part of our work with The Bonhoeffer Project, we host “cohorts,” which are groups of eight to ten ministry leaders who meet for a year to learn to create disciple-making movements in their ministry context. One of the things we do in these cohorts is define the gospel in terms of God’s kingdom. It’s fascinating to watch people awaken to this as they begin to define the gospel in terms of the kingdom of God. Many know the kingdom of God is important, but they don’t understand how it connects to the gospel or, even more to the point, how to communicate the kingdom as an essential element of the gospel. So defining the gospel in this way, at least initially, is challenging for some. We suspect you, too, may find this challenging. I (Ben) remember struggling through this myself in a Bonhoeffer cohort several years ago! It was like strenuously exercising an atrophied muscle—it was hard work.
One of the fascinating aspects of walking with ministry leaders through the process of defining the gospel is seeing how some participants gravitate to Jesus’ kingdom language while others gravitate to the apostles’ creation language. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what language you use, only that you use some type of kingdom language. As we communicate the gospel, there’s a dire need to help people understand that when they believe in the gospel of Jesus, they are stepping into something far bigger than themselves. They’re entering into something God established from the beginning of time, something Christ unleashed with power through his life, death, and resurrection, something God will complete in fullness at the end of time with Christ’s second coming, and something that Christ will rule over as king for all eternity—the kingdom of God!
3. For more information on cohorts of The Bonhoeffer Project, visit www.thebonhoefferproject.com.