For nearly 50 years, trends have indicated a decline in the influence and credibility of the Church. To live out God’s mission, we must address the tough issues of our day in a way that creates a credible, compassionate, and compelling gospel presence. Through The Gospel Initiative, we provide churches with access to learning resources, opportunities to use evidence-based practical solutions, and a network to establish supportive ministry relationships.
Now more than ever we must ask: How will we live out the mission of God, if we are unable to influence others or if we are not seen as credible witnesses for Christ?
The Gospel Initiative, a program of Denver Seminary, is about recalibrating and reimagining how we live out what the Church is about. It’s about having a voice in conversations around the tough issues of our day and being a vital part of the solutions to these challenges.
The Gospel Initiative encourages us to ask if we are being faithful to what God has called us to do. It makes us ask the question: Are we being the Church or are we just doing church?
According to recent research, most churches considered to be “strong” or “thriving” are typically those engaged in meaningful ministry beyond their church building.
Through The Gospel Initiative we are working to strengthen local churches and provide ministry and pastoral leaders, lay leaders, and others with resources to commend the gospel with compassion and credibility, so they are better prepared as they extend a compelling gospel presence into their communities. These opportunities provide a platform to develop and shape the efforts of those who strive to be church planters and evangelists in all parts of the globe.
Main focuses for The Gospel Initiative include research, educational opportunities, resources, and relationships.
Upcoming Issues Forums
Contact Dr. Mark Harden, executive director, for more information.
Issues Forum Series 1: "Churches Engaging Racism for
the Sake of the Gospel"
A 3 part series, March 25, April 22, and May 13
11 a.m. - 12:15 p.m., MT (1 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. EST)
Racial Injustice "Under the Law": Confronting the underpinnings of racial profiling and high incarceration rates among people of color
Click here for more information or to register.
Racism as a Thief in the Night: How racist beliefs impact employment opportunities and perpetuate economic inequities
Systemic Racism by Design: How racism continues to influence health disparities among families in our communities
Immigrants or Neighbors: The paralyzing effects of xenophobia on American immigrant economic well-being
Research – We utilize various research methods to learn how the church, individuals, groups, and the general public experience the gospel through what churches and ministry practitioners do. We also conduct research in collaboration with churches and others to discern the issues and objections that keep people from being open to considering the gospel to impact change.
Educational Opportunities – Our issue forums feature thinkers and practitioners who engage challenging issues in ways that commend the gospel. The Gospel Challenge workshops provide structured-learning opportunities for churches to develop resources and innovate in ministry. Seminary faculty also integrate the Gospel Initiative with classroom curriculum and learning activities.
Learning Resources – We produce and share resources to facilitate learning and action, including videos, podcasts, and other materials, to support church mission, evangelistic ministry, and church planting as men and women seek to serve in communities where God has called them.
Relationships – The Gospel Initiative creates learning cohorts consisting of churches and ministry practitioners. Participants explore innovative ideas, share evidence-based practices, and encourage one another through innovation hubs, networking, and relational bonding opportunities to create active learning communities where clergy and ministry practitioners brainstorm and experience spiritual growth. Among the issues The Gospel Initiative focuses on are: racism and reconciliation, poverty relief and economic equity, restorative justice and reform, human and civil rights, human sexuality and gender, and climate change and environmental justice.
Ways to Get Involved
It’s important that the voice of the Church is included in challenging conversations. The Gospel Initiative ensures that Christians not only have a voice in discussions surrounding pressing issues, but that the voice of the Church is one that is listened to, valued, and respected. Our hope is that these conversations draw people to our faith in Christ and provide ministers and lay leaders a foundation from which to evangelize in ways that open others up to learning about the gospel. To do this, we must address the issues that create barriers to faith in a way that is thoughtful, empathetic, and well informed.
Our Issues Forums assist in guiding these conversations and help us to examine what we as Christians can and should be
doing to ensure that a gospel presence is part of the conversations.
These non-denominational, non-partisan, cross-generational forums are a space for church leaders, ministry practitioners, and lay leaders to engage in robust conversations, consider credible and thoughtful resources, and learn from issues experts. Participants are empowered to consider approaches the Church may take to address critical issues and then consider the consequences of inaction.
The Gospel Challenge Workshops
Participants in Gospel Challenge workshops learn how to respond to and reimagine gospel ministry for the 21st century within their own ministries and communities. Ministry leaders and lay leaders from diverse churches from local communities across the country participate in in-depth self-assessment of their own ministry and church situations, select an issue or critical need to focus on, and outline a path toward engaging this issue or need.
Individuals and entire ministries choose to participate in the Gospel Challenge for a variety of reasons. Some churches are curious about exploring a difficult and challenging social or cultural issue, but they are not sure how to get started. Some are trying to understand their role or the role of the Church in tough issues. And some ministries are ready to dive in to explore a challenge they see, but do not know how to go about chartering this new territory.
Contact Dr. Mark Harden, executive director, for more information about Gospel Challenge workshops.
Participants in TGI will be empowered to:
- address difficult social issues and make a difference in society.
- educate people of faith about how to address critical social and ethical issues.
- overcome challenges of a public faith in contemporary society.
- create a gospel presence through learning and innovation.
- facilitate ways for others to achieve spiritual growth and faithful witness in ministry.
- serve as significant forces in ministry.
As The Gospel Initiative continues to grow, we will develop more resources and continue to explore more ways to get involved, including innovation hubs, a research repository, education and training consortiums, advocacy councils, and other networks for engagement.
The Gospel Initiative’s Mission Statement: The Gospel Initiative supports the Church’s mission in creating a compelling, compassionate, and credible gospel presence in contemporary society.
Mark Harden, Executive Director
Dr. Mark G. Harden comes to Denver Seminary with a variety of experiences in theological education, including having served as lead faculty, program director, academic dean, and president. He is an ordained Baptist pastor and holds Masters of Arts degrees in theology and ministry studies, from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary and Marygrove College, respectively, and a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Michigan State University.
Dr. Harden is a practical theologian with broad experience in community development, evangelism, mission and local church ministry. Specializing in family and child ecology, he has also worked with several faith-based, nonprofit and international agencies. His teaching and research topics include ministry in the context of race, class, and poverty, as well as intercultural and social competence, and organizational development.
Dr. Harden has held human service certifications in law enforcement, in addition to various certifications from the U.S. Department of Education, National School Safety Center, and the Institute for Intercultural Communications. He is married to Sharon Harden. They are the parents of four grown children.