The American landscape is dotted with churchless Christianity. Church has been reduced to a weekly or biweekly event. Instead of being the church, we have fallen into merely doing church, and far too often our doing is disconnected from being. We have devolved from being Jesus-centered communities into loose collections of spiritually minded individuals.
Churches today have more in common with shopping malls, fortresses, and cemeteries than they do the church of the New Testament. They have become consumerist, doctrinaire, lifeless institutions, not Jesus-centered missional communities. Why this gross distortion? There are far too many reasons to discuss here, but a fundamental reason Christianity in America is both churchless and in decline is due to the fact it is characterized by a one-third gospel.3 This one-third gospel is hardly the gospel at all. It focuses on Jesus’s death and resurrection as a doctrine to be believed, not on Jesus as a Person to be trusted and obeyed. The gospel has been reduced to a personal ticket to heaven. But the biblical gospel is much more than personal conversion to gain a reservation in heaven. It is conversion to Jesus Christ as Lord. Moreover, the gospel has two more “thirds.” The gospel calls us into community and onto mission. — Jonathan K. Dodson and Matt Chandler, Gospel-Centered Discipleship (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012), 107–108.