God exhorts us to conduct ourselves “in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Phil. 1:27), to defend and confirm the gospel (Phil. 1:7), and to live in accordance with “sound doctrine that conforms to the gospel” (1 Tim. 1:10-11). The whole of our lives should be shaped by the Gospel. For churches, that even includes policies and policy-making.
Why It’s So Important to have Policies Shaped by the Gospel
The Gospel contains the power of God to change lives.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. (Rom. 1:16)
… our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. (1 Thess. 1:5)
Gospel power makes the Church different from other organizations. Without the power of the Gospel at work in and through us, we’re merely another good cause with its own creed.
What Happens if Policies Aren’t Shaped by the Gospel
Policies not shaped by the Gospel will adversely affect the Gospel, striking against the core of who we are as a Church. Without the power of the Gospel at work in and through us, the Church is in trouble. To understand how, we’ll pull out a few phrases from Scripture to show how we can negatively affect the Gospel. Though found in specific contexts, which must always be considered in studying the Word, we can note that policies and procedures in the church can have the same effect when not shaped by the Gospel.
“move from the hope held out in the gospel” (Col. 1:23)
When policies lead to legalism and condemnation, they become enslaving rather than freeing us.
“hinder the gospel” (1 Cor. 9:12)
When policies lead to bureaucracy, they produce nothing but red tape that keeps us from advancing.
“throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel” (Gal. 1:17)
When policies lead to extra-biblical mandates, they confuse the real essence of the Gospel with man-made rules and regulations.
“not acting in line with the truth of the gospel” (Gal. 2:14)
When policies lead to overriding and contradicting the truth of God’s Word, they produce faulty premises upon which to make decisions.
When any of the above happens, we’re emptying the cross of its power (1 Cor. 1:17), and that’s a real problem for the Church. — “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk (or policies) but of power.” (1 Cor. 4:20)
Let’s keep in mind that God has entrusted us with the Gospel (1 Thess. 2:4; 1 Tim. 1:10-11). That means we must let the Gospel shape all we do and guard against letting anything, even our policies, have the above negative effects on it. And, it also means we must reflect the Gospel in all we do — the topic of the next post.