EFCA One – Hot Topic: “The Doctrinal and Functional Centrality of the Biblical Gospel”

Greg Strand – July 23, 2013 Leave a comment

In one of the plenary Hot Topic sessions we focused on the doctrinal and functional centrality of the gospel.  I presented a short introduction explaining the rationale and format of the session. Ed Stetzer emphasized the biblical gospel, and focused on some of the implications/entailments of the gospel. This gospel truth was then applied in a functional way specifically in four areas of ministry: pastoral ministry by Philip Abode; biblical diversity by Ruth Arnold; compassion and justice by Noel Castellanos; church planting by Ryan Kwon.

Since one of the immediate goals of TED Talks is to generate thoughtful interaction and reflection, speakers provided questions to enable participants to engage at a deeper and in a more profound manner with the messages. Being gospel people in the Free Church, the ultimate goal was to increase our commitment to the doctrinal centrality of the gospel in belief and proclamation, and the functional centrality, i.e. its implications or entailments, of the gospel in life and ministry.

Introduction: Greg Strand, “The Doctrinal and Functional Centrality of the Biblical Gospel”

In this evening’s hot topic session we address the doctrinal and functional centrality of the biblical gospel – doctrinal centrality in belief and proclamation, and functional centrality in life and ministry.

We will follow a “TED talk” format, which is described as giving “the talk of your life.” And we have asked our speakers to do that in 12 minutes! All the speakers tonight believe so deeply in this foundational message that they would be willing to die for it, and even more so, to live for it! And since an end-goal of a TED talk is to generate discussion, promote deeper, and at times different, thought, questions of implication, application and engagement will accompany their presentations.

The call is to affirm and reaffirm the doctrinal and functional centrality of the biblical gospel – doctrinal centrality in belief and proclamation, and functional centrality in life and ministry, implications of the gospel. This is what our five speakers will do this evening.

TED Talk Questions


Ed Stetzer, President of Lifeway Research: “The Biblical Gospel”

  • Why are so many dissatisfied with our current understanding of the gospel (not big enough, too diluted, has a “hole” in it, needs to be recovered, etc.)
  • Why does our view of gospel– and what it contains– really matter?
  • What does the gospel-centered movement offer and what are the concerns it might cause us?
  • How can we lead our churches to know, and have great confidence in, the gospel?
  • How do the gospel and the mission intersect?

Philip Abode, Lead Pastor, Crossover Bible Church, Tulsa, Oklahoma: “The Centrality of the Gospel and Pastoral Ministry”

  • In an article on the centrality of the gospel, Dr. Timothy Keller said, “The main problem in the Christian life is that we have not thought out the deep implications of the gospel, we have not ‘used’ the gospel in and on all parts of our life.” What are your thoughts about this statement? Do you agree or disagree? Why?
  • What role do you think the gospel plays in a believer’s sanctification (the progressive growth toward Christlikeness)?
  • How does your preaching/teaching currently reflect the role that the gospel plays in the believer’s life beyond salvation (justification)?
  • How does the functional centrality of the gospel play itself out in your ministry (i.e. decision making, counseling, preaching, children’s ministry, youth ministry, outreach)?

Ruth Arnold, Executive Director, 2nd Mile Ministries: “The Centrality of the Gospel and Biblical Diversity”

  • What fears or apprehensions do you have related towards pursuing and leading others towards embracing diversity?
  • What are several easy examples of ways God has created diverse things to be gifts? (teams, body, flavors, etc…?)
  • How have you seen people who are already in your life who are different from you enrich your life, character, and witness? (Spouse, family members, co-workers, friends)
  • What sinful blind spots do you have that are accepted normal behaviors of the social and cultural groups you identify with?
  • In what ways have you been able to see God in richer ways as a result of a relationship with someone who is different than you?
  • As you live in the Christian community you are part of – in what ways are you less effective in the world around you because of a lack of diversity? Or how has being part of a diverse community strengthened your effectiveness in the world around you?

Noel Castellanos, Chief Executive Officer of the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA): “The Centrality of the Gospel and Compassion and Justice”

  • How does the incarnation of Jesus of Nazareth as a Galilean Jew inform our understanding of God’s concern for the poor?
  • Why does the church in the west seem to miss the centrality of God’s concern for the poor?
  • If God identifies so closely with the vulnerable and the marginalized in the world, how do we prioritize ministry to the rich in society?
  • How does Noel’s message impact your perspective on the current immigration debate?

Ryan Kwon, Lead Pastor, Resonate Church, Freemont, California: “The Centrality of the Gospel and Church Planting”

  • Tim Keller says, “The only way to significantly increase the number of Christians in a city is by significantly increasing the number of new churches.” Do you agree or disagree?
  • If someone is feeling territorial, what facets of the gospel are they not believing? How does the gospel address turf wars?
  • Why is it important to seek faithfulness over success? What role has a fear of failure played in your life and ministry? How can the gospel address those fears?
  • The primary barriers to church planting are:

o lack of resources
o need for control
o fear of loss.

  • Which of these three areas presents your current ministry with the greatest barrier to supporting or planting churches?
  • What would it look like if your current ministry took the next steps toward supporting the work of church planting in your city?
  • How can established churches find renewal through new church plants in the area?

Greg Strand


Affectionately called “Walking Bible” by his youngest daughter, Greg Strand has a ministry history that goes back to 1982. Since that time, he has served in local church ministry in a variety of ministry capacities: youth pastor, associate pastor of adult ministries and senior pastor. He is currently the EFCA's Executive Director of Theology and Credentialing. Greg reads voraciously and never stops learning — a passion reflected in the overflowing bookshelves that spill from his library to multiple offices. And he could tell you about each of those books! His hunger for learning pales in contrast to his great love for God and for teaching the Word of God.

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