Our Gospel Problem

According to Scot McKnight, younger evangelicals are leaving the church in droves because we’re not teaching the Gospel well. According to him, 90% of evangelical children decide to follow Jesus. But, of those, only 22% will still be following Jesus when they’re 35. And, from McKnight’s perspective, the problem is how we present the Gospel.

McKnight’s book The King Jesus Gospel has been getting a lot of attention lately. And, now they’ve produced a very interesting promo video. I don’t usually link to these marketing videos, but this one seemed particularly intriguing. I may see if I can get my hand on a copy of the book to see where he goes anywhere unexpected with the argument (other than just pointing out the importance of “kingdom” in the NT gospel, of course).

About Marc Cortez

Theology Prof and Dean at Western Seminary, husband, father, & blogger, who loves theology, church history, ministry, pop culture, books, and life in general.

Posted on August 22, 2011, in Gospel and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. This is also a regenerate/regeneration problem! (Titus 3:5)

  2. Could be just me, but I’m pretty sure he almost walked straight into that telephone pole at the end of the video… That would have been kind of funny…

    I’m a little leery about books, videos, blogs, etc., pointing out a problem within the church and then presenting the solution. Perhaps it’s a personal taste, but usually systematic programs are good at initially “solving” the current problem, but when an entirely new problem arises, that same program is useless. I can’t say he’s suggesting a whole new program here, but I get that sentiment.

    However, I think he highlights a terribly big problem: People want to run, but only for a little while. I think of Tony Campolo and Brian McLaren in Adventures in Missing the Point talking about salvation being an endurance race; not just getting across the starting line. Today’s youth, myself included, are encouraged to think of Jesus and Christianity as something fun, hip, and cool, but are generally by themselves if something rough happens in their life.

    Not saying this will solve the problem, but it will help if we cut all our facades, pretenses and how we package the gospel and simply teach by word and give example by action the teachings of Jesus. It might keep a few more numbers involved each Sunday morning and let the youth know that there is a deep, internal reality to Christianity beyond all the masks we might wear.

  3. Matthew R. Malcolm

    I heard Scot talk on this topic a week ago, here in Australia. He is certainly trying to be provocative – he began by warning that he was going to be very controversial. He is especially trying to re-emphasise the importance of “kingdom,” as you’ve suggested. But it’s more than a matter of refreshed emphasis – he’s suggesting that we have wrongly assumed our rhetorical presentation of soteriology to be the “gospel” – whereas, in his view, the gospel is not really about salvation, but about the narrative of Jesus. So he’s not just pointing out the importance of kingdom in the gospel; he’s saying that kingdom IS the gospel. That’s my take on what he was saying, anyway.

  4. Not a new issue at all – looks like deja vu to me, especially from Zondervan’s part (http://amzn.to/occnyM). I wonder who McKnight’s interlocutors are…???

  5. I think he is on to something, to the degree he is critiquing the voluntaristic “decision” theology that is so prevalent. If you make humans autonomous in choosing God, they will choose to walk away too. God is just another product, an option, an entree on the menu of life-enhancing choices. But when the “cross” makes demands, well, life doesn’t seem so enhanced and folks will turn away. At least that is what the kingdom will look like according to Jesus. (Matt. 13:18-23)

    And those earnest young evangelicals who are leaving the church, and who “just want Jesus’ gospel” – don’t exist (the Evangelical noble savage?). That is kind of the point of the Incarnation, Cross, and Resurrection. If they love Jesus’ gospel so much, they’ll love Jesus, too (i.e. his body).

    I’m curious if he is going to be saying anything different than what folks like Wright and Keller have been saying about the kingdom for the last 20 years or so, but he might. McKnight is substantive and doesn’t strike me as a hype-guy. They just make his videos for him…

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