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Gospel + safety + time.  It’s what everyone needs.  A lot of gospel + a lot of safety + a lot of time.

Gospel: good news for bad people through the finished work of Christ on the cross and the endless power of the Holy Spirit.  Multiple exposures.  Constant immersion.  Wave upon wave of grace and truth, according to the Bible.

Safety: a non-accusing environment.  No embarrassing anyone.  No manipulation.  No oppression.  No condescension.  But respect and sympathy and understanding, where sinners can confess and unburden their souls.  A church environment where no one seeking the Lord has anything to fear.

Time: no pressure.  Not even self-imposed pressure.  No deadlines on growth.  Urgency, but not hurry, because no one changes quickly.  A lot of space for complicated people to rethink their lives at a deep level.  God is patient.

This is what our churches must be: gentle environments of gospel + safety + time.  It’s where we’re finally free to grow.


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One thought on “Gospel + Safety + Time = a church where anyone can grow”

  1. Gail (Frederickson) Hatch says:

    We appreciate your wise insights into church life- as we are involved in a start up church in Oakland, Ca. Very timely–thank you!

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Ray Ortlund


Ray Ortlund is senior pastor of Immanuel Church in Nashville, Tennessee, and serves as a Council member with The Gospel Coalition. You can follow him on Twitter.

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