It is quite easy to assume that if we understand the gospel accurately and preach it faithfully, our ministry will necessarily be shaped by it. – but this is not true. Many churches subscribe to gospel doctrines but do not have a ministry that is shaped by, centered on, and empowered through the gospel. Its implications have not yet worked their way into the fabric of how the church actually does ministry. These churches’ theological vision has likely arisen from something other than sustained reflection on the gospel.
Gospel centered ministry is more theologically driven than program driven. To pursue it, we must spend time reflecting on the essence, the truths, and the very patterns of the gospel itself. It is an unfortunate development within the history of thought in general and the history of the church in particular that has insisted on driving a wedge between theory and practice. The two belong together in dialogical relationship. Theology here is understood to be fides quaerens intellectum, the ministry of Christian understanding – an understanding that aims for the church’s fitting participation within the drama of God’s redemption.