The Gospel Coalition India celebrated its launch with a hybrid event themed around ‘Discipleship in a Digital Age.’ Christians, writers, leaders, and pastors from different parts of India and the world joined online and in person, including members of TGC Africa and Julius Kim, president of The Gospel Coalition. In this video, Julius Kim articles TGC’s vision for discipleship in a digital age.
I’d like to share a few thoughts about where TGC is right now and basically our vision. As you know, TGC has been around for 15 years, and we’ve been as a board, the board and the Council have been speaking with me about the future of this wonderful organization that God has given to us. And so what I’d like to do is share a little PowerPoint that I’ve prepared. And again, I’m already nervous. I haven’t even started the PowerPoint. I’m already nervous about this. Hopefully, this technology will work. So, again, let me know if it doesn’t feel free to interrupt, but let me try this and see if this works. Hopefully, I can share this screen. Actually, I should have shared it with you.
The host has disabled participant screen sharing. Would it be possible to share my screen? Thank you. Now, does everybody see this slide? Could someone speak to me? I’m assuming you do. Wonderful.
Thank you so thank you again for this wonderful opportunity to share in this historic event as you launched TGC India. As you all know, much has changed within the last two years. Frankly, who would have known two years ago in March 2020 that the world would still be dealing with the consequences of a global pandemic? And yet, even as so much has changed, the gospel of Jesus Christ remains the same. It is clearly humanity’s steadfast hope.
And so, over the past 15 years, God has blessed the Gospel Coalition from its humble beginnings to becoming a vital resource for the global Church. And God continues to bless our efforts to support local churches and equip Christians with robust content in a variety of formats. And amid a rapidly changing and unpredictable media landscape with greater than ever competition for the attention of readers, viewers, listeners, indeed of our own Church members, TGC still resource more than 30 million people globally with written, audio, and visual content.
Take, for example, our reach globally. Ten years ago, in 2012, TGC launched its first two international coalitions. Now we have 15 coalitions and language sites representing six continents and the languages of more than 2.5 billion people. God has been good to us, and so we give thanks to God for this unprecedented growth and impact, for this is only something God can do. So as we come together tonight to launch a new coalition and a website, what I’d like to do is share briefly about TGC’s vision as our foundation as well as our direction. And so the what’s and the why and the what. Excuse me, the why and the what of The Gospel Coalition. In other words, before we discuss what we should do, whether in the United States or in India, I believe it’s helpful for us to discuss why we exist. In other words, I’d like for us to have clarity on our vision before we even discuss our tactics.
The Why: The Vision of The Gospel Coalition
I believe when an organization starts with that, the why inevitably becomes unfocused and then clear. Let me say that again. When an organization starts with just the tactics or the what, the why or the reason why we exist inevitably becomes unfocused and incoherent. But when an organization starts with the why and has the discipline to only do what fulfils the state of vision, I believe there is more coherence and focus.
And so thank you for allowing me to present to you our vision statement here at TGC and how it relates to what we are called to do for such a time as this. Please note that this does not replace our foundational documents, especially our confessional statement and our theological vision for ministry. Excuse me. Rather, this vision statement flows out of those documents to help our organization in making strategic decisions that align with its purpose and goals.
So here’s the TGC vision statement.
TGC supports the local church in making disciples of all nations by providing resources that are trusted and timely, winsome and wise, and centered on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
So if you’ll allow me, let me break down these phrases and these important words.
TGC supports the local church
First, TGC supports the local church, period. I believe we need to state unequivocally that we are neither the church or a church replacement. As a para-church, TGC exists to come along the church and support her with the unique resources God has given to us, be it in our creating content, our convening of events, or serving together as councils. The emphasis is always going to be in supporting the local church. Within the church supporting role, I believe we need to play special emphasis on equipping pastors and church leaders addressing the challenges of church ministry that are both unique to our time and those that have plagued the church for centuries. Whatever the issue may be, I want us to reiterate the central importance of the local church in the life of the Christian.
In addition to pastors and church leaders, I believe we also should resource fellow believers as they try to know and apply the gospel to all of life for all the world. And so we want to support the church. We want to support Christ and his bride, the church, and we want to support especially its pastors and church people in the pulpit or in the pew.
TGC supports the Church in making disciples of all nations
Secondly, TGC supports the church in making disciples of all nations. As you all know, the map of Christianity has changed. 100 years ago, in 1900, close to 90% of the world’s Christians primarily resided in North America or in Europe. 100 years later, in 2000, only 35% or so of the world’s Christians are there. Where are they? Where are they? Excuse me, of course, in the global south and in the global east. And so I believe the church’s mission is now global, which in turn means that TGC’s mindset and ministry should also be global as the Church is called to fulfil the Great Commission, I believe TGC must align with that mission. But that mission needs to be polycentric and relational, partnering and reciprocal. As many of you know, the internet is the first frontier of evangelism today, and as such, it has a global reach. So we want to put resources online that people everywhere can find easily when searching for the most important spiritual questions in life. Furthermore, we have a wonderful opportunity to connect and partner with all of our international coalitions as they provide helpful, contextual applications of the gospel to the unique challenges of their regions and in return, I have no doubt our own ministries here in the United States will be blessed by them. And so we want to bless and to be blessed globally. So TGC supports the church and making disciples of all nations.
TGC provides resources that are trusted
And so what do we provide? We provide resources. Or what kind of resources does TGC provide as part of its vision? First, we provide trusted resources. At a time when many people don’t know who or what to trust, especially online, TGC aspires to be a trusted source of all that is true, good and beautiful. Amidst the glut of the content on the internet, people are desperately searching for answers that they can trust, but what they find in their search results is often unhelpful at best, evil at worst. So we want to provide solid, reliable, trustworthy resources that offer true hope for the searching.
Our trusted name and brand comes in large part because of our stringent fidelity to the Scriptures as the word of God and our focus on the central message of the Scriptures, the gospel. This is why we will stay uncompromisingly tied to the trustworthy word of God as it sets the standard for our faith in life, our content, and our events. We want people to trust TGC because it’s clear our agenda is set by the Bible and the gospel, not by a particular political party, cultural group, or economic system.
TGC provides resources that are trustworthy and timely
But in addition to resources that are trustworthy, we also want them to be timely. What do I mean by that? From our content to our convening, our essays to our events. We want to provide timely content because the challenges of our world are fast-moving and ever-changing. We need to be answering the questions and concerns that are on the hearts and minds of our churches. We need to scratch where people are actually itching. We want to have relevant resources. Furthermore, we need to be aware of and use various digital mediums to be nimble, adaptable and relevant to our concerns of our day.
We need to be on the cutting edge of technology since reports state that by 2025, just a few years, 80% of the world will own a smartphone, and so we want to be accessible in various digital platforms. I hope you noticed that we want to be both trusted and timely. Focusing exclusively on producing trustworthy resources is good, but sometimes means sacrificing relevance. Yet focusing exclusively on timeliness sometimes means sacrificing trust and losing gospel moorings. And so we want and need to be both trusted and timely, firm in our biblical commitment, relevant in our accessible resources, and nimble in our use of technology.
TGC provides resources that are winsome, in addition to being trusted and timely
Also, in our current cancel culture of constant outrage, division, and disdain, TGC seeks to be a winsome voice that draws Christians together rather than pushing people away. We want to have winsome resources in addition to being trusted and timely. And of course, being winsome speaks to tone that is how we communicate as an organization is just as important, if not perhaps more important to what we communicate. Now, of course, please don’t get me wrong. What we say is vitally important and we’ve covered that in seeking to be trusted. But if we are able to understand all mysteries and all knowledge and have all faith, celestial, to even move mountains and have not love, we are nothing. And so our winsome tone means prioritizing presenting the gospel and its implication for all of life as beautiful and receivable. We can’t offer hope for those who are searching if we are presenting truth that is abrasive or hard. Now, there will be times when we have to be firm and take stands that will not always be popular. But if people are repelled because of our tone and not because of the gospel truth TGC preaches, then I believe we have failed. And so, propelled by Christ’s sacrificial love for us, we need to be winsome and kind, generous and forgiving in our character as well as in our content.
TGC provides content that is wise
But we also want to provide resources that are wise. What do I mean by that? Being wise speaks to the high level of quality, intelligence and insight of our resources. We want to counter the assumption that somehow being an evangelical Christians being an evangelical Christian means that we’re not intellectual or don’t have high standards. Just because the Bible is our chief authority and foundational source of truth doesn’t mean we are not fluent and thoughtful in the arts, history, politics, economics, philosophy and more. By common grace, we can value and engage these areas and help other Christians do the same. This means that we value both the special revelation of God’s word and the general revelation of God’s created world, applying the timeless wisdom of Scripture to the timely issues of our day as well as to the broad spectrum of everyday life, be it whether a coronavirus pandemic or issues related to family, work, entertainment and so wisdom means prioritizing cultural apologetics that is, diagnosing cultural undercurrents and might of Scripture and discovering new avenues to present the gospel in this secular age. And now our brand of cultural apologetics is expositional. That is, we bring together our trustworthy commitment to solid biblical and theological exposition with our commitment to timely cultural apologetics.
TGC provides resources that are centered on the gospel
And last, though definitely not least, we want to provide resources that are centered on the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The gospel is the first word in our organization’s name because everything we do should stem from the gospel and serve to advance it. But it’s also the last word in our vision statement. This is because it is the gospel that not only unifies our coalition, but also our vision. The gospel at our center means our coalition is united not by shared politics or even a shared denomination, but by shared commitment to the gospel of grace that transcends politics and denominations.
We believe the gospel can speak to all areas of life and that the gospel is what will spur us on as a movement to impact especially the emerging next generation. And so TGC supports the local Church in making disciples of all nations by providing resources that are trusted and timely, winsome and wise, and centered on the gospel of Jesus Christ.
So if that’s why we exist, what do we do so now? Secondly, the what?
The What: The Direction of The Gospel Coalition
These three priority areas represent the primary what’s of TGC’s day to day operations that follow from the why and I name them content, convening and council.
The first thing we primarily do is to support the Church in making disciples of all nations by providing trust and timely winsome and wise content centered on the gospel. As you can see, here are some of the various content our top-notch editorial teamwork on daily. Led by our editor in chief, Collin Hansen, the team continues to astound me with our excellence. So you can just see the list of things that we are involved in. But we do more than just create content.
We also convene. The second thing we do is to convene, i.e., to produce gathering events that are trusted and timely, winsome and wise. And we do this in a variety of formats, in person and online, local, national, and even international. So take a look at some of the things that we do to convene Christian and Christian leaders all around the globe.
And the third thing we do is to have a unique ecumenical council of like-minded pastors and leaders united around the globe to help advance the vision of TGC connected to the local Church and its issues committed to our foundational documents. Our trusted and timely, winsome and wise council provides and models the leadership needed for our vision. And I can’t imagine something more timely than ever than this than like-minded church leaders gathering together for the sake of the gospel, transcending even denominations and churches.
And so TGC supports the local Church in making disciples of all nations by providing resources that are trusted and timely, winsome and wise, and centered on the gospel of Jesus Christ. And so this is my prayer that the Lord will continue to use TGC and bless the local Church, not only in my home here in the United States, but also for my brothers and sisters there in places like India. So thank you and may God continue to richly bless you.
Thank you, Dr Kim, for being with us and sharing that for the bigger picture of the gospel coalition and the vision and what’s happening. Just one quick question. Dr. Kim is still there. One quick question I wanted to ask you before we let you go. I know you’re a busy man. Thank you for taking the time to join us. I’m sure when Don Carson, Tim Keller, when they got together in that coffee shop so many years ago, maybe almost 20 years ago, started talking about this coalition of pastors and talking about gospel issues and so on. I’m sure they never imagined that this would evolve into one of the most popular Christian websites in the world. I don’t even know if that was on their radar screen. So one question is, what do you think that it is about The Gospel Coalition that’s gotten so much traction with people? Why has it become so popular? And maybe I’ll just tag on another question along with that. And that is, what are the benefits do you think that we can expect for the church at large in India, having our own chapter of The Gospel Coalition here in India?
Thank you for that question. I’m sure if we were to ask that question to Don or Tim, they probably wouldn’t know how to answer that question because when they started The Gospel Coalition 15 years ago, as many of you may know, they met together in a cafe in New York City to talk about essentially the need of the Evangelical and Reformed Church, the confessional reformed church, to speak to some of the challenges that the gospel was facing in their day. And one of the main issues that they faced at that time was what we call the emerging church or the emergent church and the dangers of that to the gospel. And so they said, you know what? We need to gather our friends.
So essentially, The Gospel Coalition started as a gathering of friends, like-minded pastor friends that said, you know what?
I can’t do this on my own. I need the help of other friends to combat some of the challenges to the gospel that we’re seeing, not only in my local church, not only in our world. And so let’s just gather together, let’s pray and see what we can do together. And in many ways, Arvind, I feel that that’s really the DNA of TGC. No matter whether we’re reaching 30 million people worldwide, the core of who we are and what we’re doing are like-minded church leaders that recognize their need for prayer, for God’s blessing, so that they can ultimately defend and uplift and showcase the beauty and the truth of the true gospel and that the gospel is actually biblical and the gospel is actually beautiful.
That’s one reason why I think that TGC has succeeded so well, because I think a lot of church leaders have that same sort of angst or that need. They recognize that by themselves they cannot combat all the challenges that they face. And so they go looking and they look online, they look for friends.
And I think this is where TGC can really help is that our online resources, not only in terms of our content, but our online resources in terms of being able to gather with other like-minded leaders that may not be from their own region, may not even be from their own denomination or tradition, and yet they can cross those boundaries and say, let’s work together. And so I actually believe it’s almost a fulfilment of what Jesus is calling us to do in John 17 in his high priestly prayer when he says, I pray that they would know that you and I are one, and I pray that they would be one.
So there’s a desire by Jesus to know the true gospel that stems from the trinity and the word of God, but also that Christian leaders would also be one and unified. And so perhaps that’s some of the reason why TGC seems to be hitting a chord with people all over the world is this desire to make the gospel biblical and beautiful. I think in terms of some of the benefits of TGC India starting its own coalition chapters again, it’s really flowing out of that, I think – DNA.
I think it’s only going to bless the Church in India that much more as TGC India and its church leaders want to disciple the next generation, especially that’s being more discipled online than perhaps in the 2 hours they spend on church every Sunday. They’re actually being discipled by the four, five, six, sometimes even seven, 8 hours that they spend on their smartphones or on their personal devices. And whether we like it or not, they’re being discipled by what they watch online. And so rather than sticking our heads in the sand and crying, we can actually say, okay, how do we meet this next generation where they are? And how can then I supplement and complement what I’m doing at my local Church with, likeminded, Christians and like-minded resources to help me disciple the next generation, evangelize the next generation for the sake of the gospel, especially in a way that’s contextual and relevant for that particular region.
And so this is what excites me so much about what you are doing there in TGC India. And what I’m seeing around the world and other international coalitions is this truly ecumenical, but evangelical. It’s an evangelical ecumenical movement centered around the gospel that’s uniting Christians. And I just think that’s just so encouraging and edifying and inspiring and hopeful because, frankly, a lot of things that are happening here in the United States are not that hopeful.
And yet when I see the Lord and what they’re doing in places like Africa, Asia, it’s amazing to see. So I hope to continue to learn and grow as the international coalition start teaching us how we can do church better.
So that’s a long answer. I apologize Arvind for that. But those are some of the thoughts that I have as I think about this wonderful opportunity. Yeah.
Thank you. That’s great. And we’re so thankful for the Gospel Coalition. We’re thankful for you. We’re thankful that somebody from an Asian background is leading an organization like The Gospel Coalition. And just thank you for taking the time to be with us this evening. We really appreciate it. Why don’t we give Dr. Kim a big round of applause and appreciate him. Thank you so much. We really appreciate it. Take care.
Many blessings to you. Great.