“Give us a definition of the gospel in your own words.”
If you’ve ever applied for a ministry position, you have probably been given this prompt before. For something so foundational to all of the Christian life, it is surprising how few times I have had to actually define the gospel.
I have been a Christian for a long time. I grew up in church, hearing the gospel. I have read a plethora of books that dedicate a great deal of time to unpacking the Creation–Fall–Redemption–Restoration themes of Scripture. If I am honest, I often feel the temptation to just skim through them as if “I already know that stuff.”
I may feel I know it, but perhaps a more important question is, how effective am I at regularly communicating the gospel, especially with clarity and consistency?
ALWAYS BE PREPARED
I have not had someone come up to me out of the blue and request, “Give me a clear definition of the gospel.” But if I did, what would I say? What if I only had thirty seconds in an elevator with this person? What if I had five minutes? What if I had thirty minutes? Peter admonishes us, always be “ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” (1 Pet. 3:15).
Are we prepared?
We are oftentimes not. We view personal evangelism as this idealized, unrealistic phenomenon. We have all heard amazing stories of personal evangelism, but we often do not experience it ourselves. Sermons challenge us to go reach our neighbors, and in small groups, we share about opportunities for showing Christ to co-workers or friends. But are these conversations actually getting to the gospel?
What if part of the reason you and I seem to participate in so little personal evangelism is due to our unpreparedness in gospel proclamation?
This is where writing out the gospel comes in. To grow in our communication of the gospel, a valuable tool is taking the time to actually write out our definition of it, and familiarize ourselves with how we would communicate it on a napkin, in a thirty-second window, or over several minutes with a friend.
I know you know it. I know that it may seem elementary to you. But if you are like me, when you put a pen to a blank piece of paper to write out the gospel, you may be surprised at how tough it is to do effectively.