Book Review: Gaining by Losing

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I’m grateful for the Great Commission focus of Gaining by Losing: Why the Future Belongs to Churches That Send by J.D. Greear.  What a great reminder that we are called to SEND.  We are not called to SIT or to HANG OUT…but to GO and share the gospel.  Mark 16:15 says, “And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”  J.D. Greear gives us a book full of practical ways to live out the gospel supported by a ton of Scripture throughout.  What are you waiting for?  GO and spread the good news!

  • Every Christian is called into full-time ministry. Once we step over the line and begin to follow Jesus, everything we do is supposed to be done in his name, representing him, with the goal of advancing his kingdom.
  • Planting always involves risk. We release control of something we need in the hopes that it will come back to us in multiplied measure. But once we let go of it, we forfeit any ability to use it for ourselves. Seeds you plant you can no longer consume. Yet without the act of planting, there will never be a harvest.
  • But if John 12:24 is true, then Jesus measures the success of our ministries not by how large we grow the storehouse, but by how widely we distribute its seeds. Jesus’ measure of the church is not seating capacity, but sending capacity.
  • There are two basic questions about discipleship that we have to ask ourselves over and over, in every new season of life and in regards to whatever resources God has given us stewardship over: — Whose kingdom are we actually building: ours, or God’s? — Do we really believe that Jesus grows his kingdom most as we “give away” what he’s given to us?
  • Leaders, our job is not to gather you, amaze you, and collect your funds; our job is to help you discover the power and potential of the Spirit in you.
  • Every believer is sent. You go from mission field to missionary.
  • Churches that want to penetrate their world with the gospel think less about the Sunday morning bang and more about equipping their members to blast a hole in the mountain of lostness.
  • Increasingly, in a “post-Christian” society, unbelievers will simply not make their way into our churches, no matter how “attractive” we make them.
  • Multiplication beats out addition, every time.
  • The presence of God accompanies those who send.
  • The things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will be qualified to teach others. (2 Tim. 2:2)
  • Discipleship multiplies the number of people engaged in the mission, and multiplication has exponential impact for years to come.
  • If you are a church leader, make it personal. What ministry opportunities are you personally involved with that are not enhancing you, your church, or your platform?
  • PLUMB LINE: “The Gospel Is Not Just the Diving Board, It Is the Pool.”
  • Fill a heart with passion for the lost, and it develops the skill of sending. No shouting required. What keeps us from proficiency in sending, you see, is not a lack of competency, but a lack of conviction; not a scarcity of skill, but a paucity of passion.
  • Motivation for mission grows out of deep, personal experience with the gospel. When we are amazed at the grace God showed in saving us, going to great lengths to save others seems an insignificant thing.
  • It is impossible to truly believe the gospel and not become like the gospel. Experiencing grace transforms us into people willing to make great sacrifices to bless others. If we want to grow in our generosity of spirit, we need to feel more deeply the great sacrifice Jesus has made for us. The gospel is the root; eagerness to sacrifice is the fruit.
  • Apart from genuine, gospel-rooted heart change, sending will never take root in our churches.
  • PLUMB LINE: “Everyone Is Called.”
  • What if every believer saw their profession as a divinely appointed platform for the spread of the gospel and executed their work with that in mind?
  • Weekend attenders aren’t the primary number to celebrate. The number of disciples is.
  • The world may be entertained by our musical, theatrical, or oratorical skills, but they will never be converted by them. The only power that amazes the soul, the only wonder that silences the skeptic, the only vision that drives out our idols is the glory of the Christ revealed through preaching. When he is lifted up, he said, and only then, will he draw all men to himself (John 12:32).
  • You are either a missionary or a mission field. There is no third option.
  • Faithful ministries pursue both width and depth, because neither is really possible without the other. Depth in the gospel leads to width in the mission.
  • We once offered ten $1,000 grants to the small groups that could come up with the best “community blessing” ideas. As for any other grant, they submitted proposals that we judged, and then we awarded the top ten ideas so the groups could pursue them.
  • God calls his leaders, not to a platform to build a great ministry for themselves, but to an altar where they die unto themselves. This means sending out our best with abandon.
  • The church is not an audience to be entertained; it is an army to be empowered. The large crowd will not change the world; the mobilized force of Spirit-filled believers will.
  • When local churches equip their people to embody the gospel in the streets, they make the movements of an otherwise invisible Christ visible to their community.
  • So we began to ask ourselves: “Where can we bring ‘great joy’ (Acts 8:8) to our city as a demonstration of the gospel?”
  • The church is God’s demonstration community. Our works don’t replace the verbal preaching of the gospel, but in them we demonstrate, tangibly, the love and grace that we proclaim with our mouths. Effective gospel preaching is explaining with our words what we demonstrate with our lives. In our service, we make visible the invisible Christ.
  • As N. T. Wright says, we “sketch out with pencil what Jesus will one day paint in indelible ink.”
  • Gospel ministry is truth wrapped in grace. Truth without grace is fundamentalism; grace without truth is only sentimentality. When truth and grace are divorced, we impede the progress of the gospel. When we unite them, we multiply it.
  • Love on display is our most convincing apologetic.
  • Dawson Trotman, founder of The Navigators, used to ask prospective missionary candidates, “How many persons do you know by name today who were won to Christ by you and are living for him now?”
  • The announcement of the gospel must be communicated in words. A generous, humble, gracious, sacrificial, holy life can complement gospel proclamation, but never replace it.
  • The message is worth the awkwardness. It’s worth anything.
  • I don’t want to get to the end of my life and feel that I spent my life crazy busy, doing a lot of ministry stuff, but never accomplishing the one thing Jesus said I must do, the one thing that advanced the Great Commission: making disciples.
  • Reggie Joiner says, “When there is nothing challenging or adventurous about your style of faith, you begin to drift toward other things that seem more interesting and meaningful. Mission helps your faith.”
  • The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. (Num. 6:24 – 26 ESV)
  • May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations. (Ps. 67:1 – 2 ESV)
  • Being a disciple means being sent; so sending should pervade every aspect of discipleship development. Everything we do and learn in the Christian faith ought to be in the context of the Great Commission.
  • Gospel unity is about something far beyond uniformity on what constitutes good music and good worship experiences. Gospel unity is primarily about intentional relationships and a disposition of humility toward others.
  • We sometimes use the analogy of beef stew to illustrate how we think racial diversity will play out in our church. We don’t want to be a bag of marbles, where each culture exists side by side in a congregation but with interpenetration with the others. We also don’t want to be a melting pot, however, where each culture loses its distinctive flavor. If you mix a hundred different paint colors together, you end up with a dull gray. We want the church to be like beef stew, where each element retains its basic consistency but “flavors” the others, too. That’s cheeky, for sure, but it helps us picture what racial diversification might look like in a local body.
  • Paul’s entire life was one risk after another (Acts 20:23; 2 Cor. 11:24 – 28). John Piper, who wrote a book called Risk Is Right, says of Paul,  [He] never knew where the next blow would come from. Every day he risked his life for the cause of God. The roads weren’t safe. The rivers weren’t safe. His own people, the Jews, weren’t safe. The Gentiles weren’t safe. The cities weren’t safe. The wilderness wasn’t safe. The sea wasn’t safe. Even the so-called Christian brothers weren’t safe. Safety was a mirage. It simply didn’t exist for the apostle Paul.4 Piper concludes: “The Christian life is a call to risk. You either live with risk or waste your life.”
  • Each year we try to give away more money and send out more leaders than we feel we can afford. Only when our giving scares us do we know we are getting close to target.
  • Gospel-saturated people become visionaries. The gospel shows us the compassion of God for the world and his willingness to change it. The gospel is the single greatest catalyst for innovation in mission.
  • Jesus has placed the seed in your hand. You can either hang on to it, or you can sow it. There is only one wise choice.

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