“So…what is the Gospel message?” As the Director of Youth Evangelization and Catechesis at our parish we’ve been focusing on the basic Gospel message, or the kerygma, in all of our volunteer training. There are lots of ways to articulate the Gospel message in its entirety and plenty of places to learn it.
What I wanted to share is the best way to summarize and teach the basic Gospel message that I’ve come up with so far. I’ve used this structure to train catechists, evangelists, core members, parents, youth ministers, etc. Its not my own and has morphed slightly over the years.
A Few Caveats
- I’m going for brevity here. There is a lot of nuance and background knowledge not included in this article. Don’t fall into the trap of assuming this is all there is and that the Gospel message can be condensed and chopped down to something as simple as four points. This is just a way to teach others and a springboard. Think of these four points as training wheels.
- I’m trying to come up with something that is simple, easy to teach, and easy to remember. These constraints have pros and cons. Keep them in mind when teaching this.
- You would never just read these four points to someone. That would be bad. This is a mental structure for disicpleship, evaluating where someone needs more of the Gospel Message proclaimed to them, and for planning talks, retreats, curriculum, etc.
- I’m open to revision, because I’m sure there are a hundred ways this could be better or more theologically accurate. But again, we are going for simple and teachable.
- You could spend years compiling scripture citations for these four points of the Gospel. I just included some big ones that came to mind. Let me know if you can think of better ones!
Sources for the Four Point Gospel Message
I’m taking this from memory from a class with Prof. Bob Rice at Franciscan University called Parish and Personal Evangelization. I’m also borrowing some from Barbara Morgan’s Catechist Training Sessions where she covers Ephesians 1:3–14 as The Plan of Salvation.
And lastly, to ensure that we aren’t just coming up with our own stuff here, and to lean on the authority of the Church, I’m borrowing from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The first three paragraphs of the catechism beautifully summarize and articulate the entirity of the faith and the plan God had from the beginning, as well as how all the pieces fit together - God, man, sin, Jesus, the Apostles, the Church, the future, and the end (or beginning, however you look at it).
The 4 Point Gospel Message
1. God loves you and has a plan for you.
Catechism: God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength.
Scripture: Genesis 1, 2, Ephesians 2:7, 1 Peter 5:10, John 17:21, Ephesians 2:7, Isaiah 43:1
2. Sin seperates us from God, but not God’s love for us.
Catechism: He calls together all men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family, the Church.
Scripture: Romans 7, Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23
3. Jesus Christ’s life, passion, death, and resurrection redeemed us from sin and restores God’s plan, allowing us to become adopted Sons and Daughters of God.
Catechism: To accomplish this, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son as Redeemer and Savior.
Scripture: John 3:16, Romans 6:23, Romans 5:8, 1 Timothy 2:6, 1 John 4:10
4. Turn away from sin, turn to Jesus Christ, and join God’s Church, in the Holy Spirit
Catechism: In his Son and through him, he invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children and thus heirs of his blessed life.
Scripture: Acts 2:38, John 3:5, 1 John 3:1, Galatians 4:6
Follow Up and Supplemental Resources
We use the four points to train people in the Basic Gospel Message. Another way to summarize these four points could be:
Creation // Fall // Redemption // Restoration
We also teach these four points as a framework for discipleship. Does the person you are discipling understand these four points? Do they believe these four points personally? If not, those are gaps that can be filled in over a couple intentional meetings.
Every fall middle school and high school retreat is also based around these four points, wrapped in a relevant and fresh new theme.
You could also plan your semester curriculum around these points, constantly referring to them, but teaching any number of themes and doctrines from the faith.
We tell our catechists that proclaiming the kerygma in this way should be done constantly throughout the year and referenced at least generally in each lesson. Always focusing on Jesus Christ and an invitation to a personal relationship with Him in the Holy Spirit through the Catholic Church.
The Plan in Ephesians 1:2–14
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will, for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved.
In him we have redemption by his blood, the forgiveness of transgressions, in accord with the riches of his grace that he lavished upon us. In all wisdom and insight, he has made known to us the mystery of his will in accord with his favor that he set forth in him as a plan for the fullness of times, to sum up all things in Christ, in heaven and on earth.
In him we were also chosen, destined in accord with the purpose of the One who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will, so that we might exist for the praise of his glory, we who first hoped in Christ.
In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised holy Spirit, which is the first installment of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s possession, to the praise of his glory.
God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength. He calls together all men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family, the Church. To accomplish this, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son as Redeemer and Savior. In his Son and through him, he invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children and thus heirs of his blessed life.
So that this call should resound throughout the world, Christ sent forth the apostles he had chosen, commissioning them to proclaim the gospel: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age." Strengthened by this mission, the apostles "went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it."
Those who with God's help have welcomed Christ's call and freely responded to it are urged on by love of Christ to proclaim the Good News everywhere in the world. This treasure, received from the apostles, has been faithfully guarded by their successors. All Christ's faithful are called to hand it on from generation to generation, by professing the faith, by living it in fraternal sharing, and by celebrating it in liturgy and prayer.
What do you think?
What would you add, subtract, or change, and why? How do you train people to proclaim the Gospel message? What experiences have you had in teaching or proclaiming the Gospel this way?
Leave me a comment below!