“Why aren’t our small groups or Sunday School classes making an impact outside the church walls?” you may think to yourself. Too often, we recognize that our church needs to refocus on mission, but our solution focuses on outward activities and not inward realities.
We need a paradigm shift. When we notice our small groups are not engaged in the mission of God, we should look beyond the symptoms to the root cause.
We need to ask tough questions: Why aren’t people excited to fulfill the Great Commission? What is causing apathy when it comes to proclaiming the gospel?
These questions push us back into gospel territory. What exactly is the gospel? What does the gospel have to do with life today, not just life after death? What is the gospel’s purpose for a Christian once we’ve been saved?
You see, the root cause of our lack of engagement in God’s mission is not a missions problem but a gospel problem. We demonstrate by our inaction that we no longer marvel at grace. We are unaffected by the beauty of what God has done for us in Christ.
That’s why I am excited to be helping create a new Sunday School/small-group resource called The Gospel Project for children, students, and adults. As Christians, we need a good grasp of four components: theology, gospel, mission, and project. By focusing on theology, we ask: What does the Bible say about God? We want to start with God, to catch a glimpse of His magnificence and grace, and then see how knowing God changes our lives.
Many Christians are familiar with certain Bible stories, but they are not always sure how the stories fit together into the Bible as a whole. We hope this curriculum will help us connect the dots and think as Christians formed by the great Story that tells the truth about our world.
Our hope is that by finding our place in the biblical story of our world, we will be empowered in fulfilling the Great Commission. There is no gospel-centeredness that does not lead to mission, for the gospel reveals the heart of our missionary God and His desire to save people of every tribe, tongue, and nation.
Finally, the word project is a good reminder that we have not yet been fully formed into the image of Christ. The project is not a curriculum we work through. We are the project. The church is God’s gospel project. God uses the gospel in order to shape us until we look more and more like His Son.
Our hope is that the classes who use The Gospel Project will be shaped by the character of our missionary God seen most clearly in the person of Jesus Christ. Weekly gatherings are not the goal of the mission; they are the means by which we connect with one another and learn God’s Word so that we are equipped to love God and neighbor while spreading the good news of Jesus Christ.