The Gospel-Centred CommunityCentral to the nature of God is His triune nature. That is, He is three in one. He is a triunity. This communicates community within the trinity. It is out of this community in the trinity that forms the foundation for man’s communion with both God and man. This is what lies behind the idea of gospel-centered communities. We form community as God is community and we form this community around the gospel God has revealed to us.

Being gospel-centered is the rage today. And this is a good thing. There are those who use the label but do not deliver on gospel-centered content. With the goal in mind of actually producing gospel-centered material, World Harvest Mission (WHM) has released a small book, The Gospel-Centered Community, in an effort to help small groups do just that. The authors are Robert H. Thune and Will Walker who have previously written the accompanying material The Gospel –Centered Life. Their goal is to deepen our knowledge and understanding of the gospel and in turn help us to apply that so that we are actually gospel-centered individuals and communities.

WHM’s material is short but very focused and intent on offering solid Biblically based gospel content in order to form grounded and purposeful communities around the gospel. The book follows the basic four part storyline of the Bible and the gospel presented in it: creation, fall, redemption and consummation. The material is designed to be used in a small group and is divided into a section on gospel foundations followed by a section on gospel application.

As the first section lays down a gospel foundation Thune and Walker cover the basics of the gospel itself and then looks at how it shapes community. Community is created in the nature of God, broken in the fall, redeemed in Christ and transformed in the community of the church as we wait for its final consummation in the return of Christ. In fleshing out the gospel further the authors discuss both what makes and breaks community. The application portions of the first section have very pointed questions and statements designed to get the readers attention so they can be brought out their selfish comfort zones of isolation from others.

The second section of the book addresses what a gospel-centered community looks like when the gospel begins to take over in the life of a community. The basis for this is “faith working through love” as found on Galatians 5:6. After laying a foundation in this verse the authors discuss what the fruit of a gospel-centered community looks like. There is a joy in our salvation, humility in our living, honesty in our sharing, grace in our accepting and finally “moving towards others as God moves towards them.” (85) This final step is the goal of the gospel shaping our communities. Our growth in understanding the gospel results in our living out the gospel in our lives which in turn pushes us out towards others in sharing the gospel. In short, a gospel-centered community is a gospel-sharing community. It proclaims to the world in word and deed the message and implications of the gospel.

The Gospel-Centered Community material is perhaps the best first book to walk a small group through in order to provide a Biblical foundation for its existence. Whether you are leading or are in a new group forming or an old group that needs to refocus, this material is for every group.

NOTE: I received this book for free from New Growth Press in exchange for an honest review. I was under no obligation to provide a favorable review and the words and thoughts expressed are my own.

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